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    When your youngest car is 15 years old you always have maintenance and stuff to do and when you have four cars and a project car the list is long! / #BMW / #BMW-E46 / #DISA-valve-replacement-kit / #DISA

    PIERS’ E46s

    This month I have had to focus on the daily fleet. My #BMW-330i-E46 has been neglected of late and I have been meaning to do the DISA valve (the DISA valve alters the inlet runner length to aid low-down torque) for some time. My #BMW-330d-E46 has started to get smelly in the cabin and the fuel economy has got worse. The #BMW-330d has the label of parts car and has always been a bit of a beater but this doesn’t change the fact that it still needs to be maintained to retain some of its value and keep the engine going if I do break it!

    As with all cars there are well-known faults and maintenance issues that raise their head in the car’s lifetime. I have addressed a lot of them in the past with the 330i: the cooling system, Vanos seals, CCV, lower control arm bushes, rear trailing arm bushes, oil filter housing gasket, rocker cover gasket… the list of repairs is really quite long!

    The DISA valve in the #BMW-M54 engine is a component that wears over time and it can then fail and the results can be catastrophic as the engine ingests the plastic… yes again plastic. BMW, why do you love plastic so much for your components?!

    The M57 engine is an all-time great but there are some well-known problems, one of which is the exhaust manifold. The manifold is made from stainless steel and it is made up of several parts which are welded together. As a result the manifold, after many heat cycles, can crack along the weld lines causing it to blow. This means the engine bay has exhaust gases in it, leading to a smelly cabin. The turbo fails to spin up how it should as exhaust gases are lost before reaching the turbo and there is then a knock-on effect on fuel economy as induction is altered.

    As with Vanos kits there are various companies who offer off-the-shelf solutions for these common issues with various cars (not just BMWs). X8R has been the company of choice for me this time as they offered solutions for both DISA valve and manifold issues. They also offer Vanos seal replacements and in addition to that they don’t just cover BMWs, they offer parts for pretty much most makes!

    The DISA solution is to replace the plastic flap in the unit with an alloy one and a replacement stainless steel spindle. This means that there is no longer a risk of the flap and spindle failing. The replacement manifold, meanwhile, is a cast item which is substantially stronger and more robust than the stainless OEM item. All new gaskets and fittings are supplied to ensure the replacement manifold is secured and sealed properly. The DISA valve is a relatively simple job which requires removing the unit from the side of the inlet manifold but the same cannot be said for the manifold swap. You can either come at it from the bottom and up, or from the top and down and both ways are a complete faff and have their respective problems. Without a two-post lift I am going top down! More on this next month where I will cover both jobs!

    DISA-valve-replacement-kit . New manifold for the 330d.
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    / Tim-Cook / #BMW-E46 / #BMW-330d / #M57D30 / #M57 / #BMW-M57 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe / #BMW-3-Series-Coupe-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-330Cd / #BMW-330Cd-E46 / #BMW

    “Who said diesels are boring?” asks Tim. Looking at his 330d we can safely say that his certainly isn’t. It’s clear from the off that this isn’t your average 330d and Tim says he’s spent a little fortune on his E46, though we reckon it’s been worth it. With the M57D30 having so much potential it’s no surprise to learn that a lot of that fortune has found its way into the engine bay, with impressive results. There’s a bigger custom FMIC with custom 3” hard pipes and a 3” downpipe from the turbo which connects up to a 3” exhaust system. Tim’s also added a custom induction kit, which he made himself and which required the washer bottle to be relocated. The whole lot is topped-off with a remap, resulting in a very impressive 256hp and a massive 420lb ft of torque, making for some serious performance.

    On the suspension front, this E46 rides on FK lowering springs, with a 30mm drop up front and 45mm at the rear. Deep-dish Calibre 18s with 15mm front and 12mm rear spacers sort the stance. On the outside the car’s been treated to a partial camo wrap, with a vinyl wrap on the inside. A set of three additional gauges finish it off.
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    Touring the Slopes / #BMW-330d / #BMW-330d-F31

    A trip to the Austrian Alps for a lesson in driving and to put an xDrive 330d through its paces. We put an xDrive 330d Touring through its paces on a road trip to BMW’s Winter Driving centre in Sölden in the Austrian Alps Words: Ben Barry /// Photography: Richard Pardon

    Every time it snows, the news likes to show a BMW 3 Series helplessly spinning its rear wheels on a suburban road. And yet here we are, powering our 330d Touring up an entirely snow-covered mountain pass in the Ötztal Alps. I’m pretty busy at the wheel, but I reckon we’re doing 35mph, maybe more. It’s all down to our two secret weapons: Pirelli Sottozero winter tyres and four-wheel drive.

    The four-wheel drive 3 Series is something of a mythical beast for British BMW enthusiasts. It’s been around for decades – indeed, 1985’s E30 325iX was the first four-wheel drive BMW – but Munich never got around to putting the steering wheel on the right for E30, E36, E46 or E9x generations, leaving archrivals Audi unchallenged with the Quattro in the UK. That’s all changed with the latest F3x xDrive 3 Series. Early sales figures must make BMW wonder why on earth it didn’t do it sooner: the xDrive 3 Series is already outselling the A4 Quattro by almost two-toone in the UK. And it’s Touring buyers who’ve proved the real early adopters: despite only going on sale in March 2013, xDrive Tourings accounted for more than 20 per cent of all UK Touring sales. For a brand that built its reputation on rear-wheel drive, that’s a pretty significant shift.

    To find out what all the fuss is about, we’re driving BMW UK’s 330d Touring to a ski resort in Sölden, Austria. The trip is a test in itself, but it’s all about the destination: Sölden has been home to BMW’s winter training programme for over a decade. It’s billed as the highest automotive winter training ground in the world at just under 3000 metres above sea level, and the one- or two-day courses take place each winter, offering something for everyone, whether you’re an amateur or an expert.

    First though, we’ve go to get out of Britain. We leave early one Sunday, catch a Eurotunnel train in the darkness and roll out on to smooth, deserted French autoroutes by 9am. It’s hard to think of a better place to be than in a 330d Touring: it’s swallowed all our luggage and camera gear, and it’s hushed, comfortable and effortlessly quick. In fact, it’s so effortless that it’s hard to stick at the posted 130km/h speed limit. I peg the cruise control at 150km/h and keep my foot poised over the brake pedal, ready for the dreaded gendarmes on motorbikes – it’s when, not if, these days!

    Crossing into Germany near Strasbourg and we’re soon free to give it all we’ve got on a derestricted stretch of autobahn. I accelerate and the six-cylinder turbodiesel’s thumping 413lb ft picks us up in one easy swoosh of boost until we settle at an indicated 155mph, just a little higher than the winter tyres’ maximum rating – I reason that both a conservative tyre rating and a slightly optimistic speedo will be on my side.

    My E36 M3 always felt a bit wayward north of 140mph, but the 330d feels incredibly secure; I’d be happy sitting at this speed for as long as conditions allowed. In the event, heavy rain limits our progress and then the big gobs of rain turn to sleet and then snow. We slow dramatically, but the tyres in particular give me confidence to stay out in the slushier overtaking lanes rather than stick behind the lorries.

    BMW’s four-wheel drive system has come on a lot since 1985, and my first chance to really feel our 330d’s xDrive setup working comes on the Fern Pass, which winds over the Tyrolean Alps. Back in 1985 you got a permanent torque split biased 38/62 per cent front-to-rear. xDrive changed all that when it debuted on the X3 in 2003. So while the typical torque split is a similar 40/60 per cent, xDrive’s electronically controlled multi-disc centre clutch can shuffle torque front-to-rear as the conditions dictate, with as much as 100 per cent going to either axle in extreme conditions. It reacts within 100 milliseconds, but then a ponderous four-wheel drive system wouldn’t be much use…

    The Fern Pass isn’t a scenic diversion, it’s a major route, so it’s pretty fast and very busy with cars and lorries, but it also features the twists and turns you would expect. As we descend into a valley with the sun setting, we can just about make out the tops of the vertiginous mountains that loom above. It’s the last leg of our journey, and the leg that requires the most concentration.

    Despite being four-wheel drive, the xDrive 330d retains its rear-drive siblings’ fluidity through these heart-in-mouth sweepers. I can’t even detect the extra pair of driveshafts causing any additional steering interference. I think I’ll always prefer the hoon factor of rear-wheel drive, but in these conditions xDrive just moves the game on, combining trademark BMW sensations with Quattro levels of reassurance and traction.

    After so long on the road and such tricky weather, it’s a relief to reach Sölden by 5.30pm. We’ve covered 850 miles in just 12 hours, averaging an impressive 37mpg despite some high-speed autobahn work and a boot crammed with luggage. Door-to-door, it would’ve cost more for two of us to fly; probably wouldn’t have been much quicker either. There’s a variety of winter-driving courses on offer in Sölden, but anyone opting for the overnight option will stay in Das Central Hotel. It’s an impressive place, with nice rooms, a large health spa complex and some top quality food too. The only skimping going on here involves the Austrians’ (lack of) sauna attire.

    BMW has been running winter-driving courses at Sölden for six weeks a year since 2003, and uses purely xDrive models. The night before the course you’ll get a quick introductory talk, then a briefing on what to expect from the timetable early the morning after. Then it’s up the road out of Sölden, following the twists and turns of a mountain road until you get to what looks like a motorway toll booth. The barriers lift at 9am and you drive into even more breathtaking scenery, with steep drops off to your left and snowcapped peaks above. I wouldn’t dare venture up it in a regular 3 Series on summer tyres, but we sit at an easy 60mph with xDrive and the Sottozeroes. At the top, where everyone else switches to ski lifts, you will stick in your car. There are several courses carved out of the snow: an off-road course, some cones on a wide, flat area to give you the chance to experience oversteer in a risk-free environment and, best of all, a huge run that culminates in you driving up a narrow snow-covered mountain between snowbanks.

    You split into groups to rotate through the various courses, around 20 people taking part and pairing up in a car each. The instructors are highly skilled drivers, many of them #BMW test engineers, including Albert Maier who’s doing his fifth season in Sölden.

    Chassis engineer Maier has been with BMW since 1984 and was responsible for the first 1 Series, along with 3 Series, Z4 and X1 models. His testing schedule has taken him to Sweden every winter from 1986, where he’s also trained up-and-coming BMW engineers. You’re in safe hands, basically, and he’s better than you. He is. Definitely.

    Pretty much every xDrive BMW is available for you to drive in Sölden: during our trip we spot a 7 Series, a 5 Series Touring, a 4 Series and even the left-hand drive-only xDrive M135i, which Maier cites as his current favourite.

    “For a chassis guy, the best will always be a small, agile car with a high-performance engine,” he informs us. “Not that you need very much power on a lowfriction surface!”

    Maier says he aims to get his students to understand how modern cars perform in tricky conditions and to give them some scope for reacting to dangerous situations in normal driving.

    “Most of the students have no idea of the possibilities and performance available in their car,” he says. “Sometimes they’re getting a completely new experience on a low-mu surface and are quite cautious, but some start off going too quickly for normal physics. Nobody can master everything in the time available, but the course will teach them how to drive in slippery conditions as well as what to do in dangerous situations. If they can transfer that to a bad situation on the road, it’s much better than not reacting at all.”

    The cars queue up for the junior courses and get to tackle them one-by-one. It’s immediately clear both how capable our xDrive 330d is and how much of BMW’s ultimate-driving-machine ethos it still retains; there’s a very clear rear bias as you swing through the sets of cones, winding on opposite lock and dabbing at the throttle, but that’s combined with the sense of the front end adding to your progress and stopping things becoming ridiculously wayward. It’s undoubtedly faster than rear-wheel drive, yet similarly fun too. Everyone seems pretty eager to return to the back of the short queue and repeat the process all over again.

    After a while, the groups switch round, and you’ll convoy to the next stage. For us, it’s our chance to do the big course, and with the extra space, comes extra speed. It starts with a relatively short acceleration run that funnels into a tight run downhill, then flicks uphill and through a coned slalom. The 330d’s traction from a standstill is deeply impressive, and so is its balance; give it an early turn into that tight downhill section and you’ll be set up for a drift right the way through. And if you get it wrong, well, you’ll only nuzzle into the snowbanks which are pretty soft and forgiving; I know, I tried it. The fast and tight slalom proves how much control you’ve still got with winter tyres and xDrive in conditions that’d bring Britain to a standstill: you can really brake hard and use the traction to power on and flick the car from left to right with real precision.

    But it’s the run up and down the ‘road’ that’s been carved out of the mountain by snow-chain-wearing tractors that’s most fun. Short of finding yourself strapped in a WRC car at the start of Rally Sweden, driving on snow doesn’t get much better than this. And it’s here, with the potential for even greater speed, that you really get to feel the xDrive’s performance benefit. To get up the hill quickly on a surface this slippery inevitably involves oversteer; it’s not showboating, it’s just the key to maintaining momentum. You need to exploit it and maintain it to help the car turn into corners. That’s because braking hard and making violent pointy motions with the steering wheel doesn’t work in the same way it does on dry Tarmac; the front end just doesn’t bite as positively. But if you get the rear end swinging, you can use the pendulum effect to turn the front end instead. So, out of a right-hand corner with a bit of oversteer as you head towards a left-hander, then a quick stab at the throttle before backing off entirely and the rear will want to swing in the opposite direction; you just use that natural weight transfer to get the car turned in. And when you do and you accelerate again, you can feel the centre diff start to push more torque to the front tyres, dragging you up the hill and piling on speed all the while. It’s incredibly satisfying and as fast as you’d ever want to be travelling in these conditions.

    It helps you to be a safer driver and it’s addictive too; if they hadn’t made me stop, I’d still be there. Maybe next year. For now, the car that’s just given us two days of solid entertainment is about to deliver us the 12 hours home with a combination of comfort, speed, frugality and safety. Really, there are few more complete cars than the xDrive 330d Touring.

    “Nobody can master everything in the time available, but the course will teach them what to do in dangerous situations”

    BMW Winter Training

    BMW’s winter-driving courses start from €390 for a half-day ‘snow drift training’ and stretch to €1590 for intensive training with two nights’ full board.

    For more information visit: www.bmw-drivingexperience.com


    TECH DATA #2015 #BMW-330d-xDrive-Touring-F31 / #BMW-F31 / #BMW-330d-F31 / #BMW-330d-xDrive-Touring
    ENGINE: #N57 six-cylinder turbodiesel, DOHC, 24-valve / #N57D30O1
    CAPACITY: 2993cc
    MAX POWER: 258hp@4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 413lb ft@1500-3000rpm
    0-62MPH: 5.4sec
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 52.3mpg
    PRICE: £36,915

    “Most of the students have no idea of the possibilities and performance available in their car”
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    THE ILLUSIONIST

    When is an M3 not an M3? When it’s actually is #BMW-330d … It might look like an E92 M3, but this Space grey coupé is a 330d underneath that’s been treated to a stunning conversion.

    As BMW fans we pride ourselves on being able to pick BMWs out of the motoring crowd from half-a-mile away and differentiate between models with nothing more than the briefest of glances. But every now and again a car comes along that will stump even the most eagle-eyed of #BMW aficionados. A car that has been executed so well and finished to such a high standard that only with the most scrutinising investigation are you able to tell what it really is.

    This E92 is one such car. At first glance, and second glance and even third glance, if you were inclined to spend so long looking at a grey E92, you would almost certainly be convinced that you were looking at an M3. Except you wouldn’t be because, as you will have gathered by now, it’s actually a 330d. Yes, there are a couple of tells from the outside – the brakes are too small for an M3 and, if you look very closely, carefully and at the right angle you can see the intercooler tucked away behind the central air intake in the bumper. Aside from that, though, there’s nothing to suggest that this is anything other than an E92 M3, and that’s impressive.

    The car belongs to Clair Bayliss and, between herself and husband Pete, they’ve had more than their fair share of cars, especially BMWs, over the years. “I get bored really quickly,” admits Clair, “and I like to change cars often.” Going through the list of previous acquisitions, I’m inclined to agree. There have been, for example, no less than five E30s in various shapes and sizes, two E36 M3s (a Coupé and a Convertible), two E46 330Ci Sports, an E46 Convertible and an X5 Sport. That’s quite some list, but it’s still only scratching the surface of just how many cars have passed through the couple’s hands over the years, but then again variety is the spice of life.

    This isn’t the first time that Pete has tried his hand at turning a regular BMW into an M-lookalike, with an E60 530d Sport having undergone the transformation into a pseudo M5 previously. Clair shows me the pictures and it looks pretty spectacular, with nothing to give the game away. Having done such an impressive job the first time around, it’s no surprise that this E92 looks so good. The decision to carry out another conversion came about when Clair got bored with the E92 330d, good a car as it is. The only trouble was what to replace it with? Its blend of performance, economy and practicality – even in Coupé form, as the child seat in the back attests – are hard to beat. While some ideas were flung about, none of them really ticked all the boxes, and that’s when the idea of carrying out another conversion arose.

    There are two things you need to know about Pete. First, he doesn’t cut corners. Second, he’s a hands-on kind of guy, so when I say that he did the conversion, he really did the conversion, in the back garden over a few weekends. Every panel you see on the outside is genuine and, in most cases, brandnew genuine M3 items. Just the bonnet is secondhand but it’s still the real deal. As is often the case, the most impressive bits of the conversion are the ones you can’t see.

    For example, the M3’s nose is fractionally longer than that of the regular E92, as Pete found out whilst working on the front of the car. It meant that he had to buy a complete M3 front panel to make everything fit perfectly. The rear arches were welded in and then sprayed by a bodyshop. There’s also an M3 boot floor in order to accommodate the M3 exhaust system. Like I said, no corners cut, no expense spared. Clair’s E92 rolls on a set of 20” CSL replica alloys while a set of Eibach springs have given it a ride height more becoming of a car that looks like an M3, with a hefty 40mm drop up front and a 30mm drop at the rear.

    Open the door and the first thing that will no doubt strike you is gear knob. Yup, this 330d is a manual, the first one I’ve come across and probably one of only a handful in the country. Pete has made sure the interior has not been forgotten about and up front there are a pair of M3 seats along with an M steering wheel – enough to transform it from ordinary to something rather more special.

    Pete’s also decided to upgrade the standard stereo and put in some beefier ICE – nothing too outlandish, but just enough to make a difference with a Pioneer headunit, a set of MB Quartz components, a Kenwood amp and a 12” JL Audio subwoofer to round things off.


    The overall end result is nothing short of awesome because it looks so damn good and has been done so well. Of course, with all the genuine M3 parts and the amount of work that has gone into the car, the conversion wasn’t cheap, coming in at £5000 in parts, and no doubt there will be plenty of people quick to pipe up and point out that you could pick up a cheap, early, #BMW-E92 M3 for the cost of the conversion on top of the 330d. You certainly wouldn’t be far off but as Clair points out, and I agree wholeheartedly, buying an M3 and being able to afford to run an M3 are two entirely different things with fuel being the main problem. With an M3 likely to return around half of what the 330d can manage, when you’re talking about a daily driver it’s a big deal and would make it an expensive experience. Of course, you’re missing out on that V8 but with a remap and DPF removal, the 330d is putting out some serious power with a mountain of torque on top and that means that this is a seriously quick car. All that performance combined with the impressive economy makes for just about the perfect package.

    With Pete’s handiwork, Clair gets to enjoy 330d economy with M3 looks, and she seems pretty happy about the situation. Of course, this all came about because she’d got bored of the 330d but the M3 conversion has given the car a fresh lease of life and while there has been talk of performance Audis from Pete, Clair seems pretty made up right now and I don’t blame her because this is one seriously nice BMW.

    DATA FILE #BMW-330d-E92 #N57

    ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel #N57D30O0 , remap, DPF removed, #E92 M3 exhaust.

    TRANSMISSION: Standard six-speed manual gearbox.

    CHASSIS: 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) CSL replica wheels, #Eibach lowering springs.

    EXTERIOR: Complete E92 M3 conversion with genuine E92 M3 front wings, side skirts, rear quarters, front bumper, rear bumper, bonnet, complete front panel, M3 boot floor, mirrors, boot spoiler.

    INTERIOR: E92 M3 leather seats, M steering wheel, Pioneer head unit, #MB-Quartz component speakers, Kenwood amp, 12” JL Audio W3 subwoofer.

    THANKS TO: Marky Mark (Bodyshop)
    Tel: 07712 488740
    Bains Tyre Services: 01332 343555
    Albert Looms of Derby: 01332 673663
    Gaz & Jay Perfect for sorting the shoot location
    Eddie Butler for helping Pete with the transformation

    M3 boot floor was installed to allow M3 exhaust to be fitted.
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