- Post is under moderationBMW M4 CS / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe
It’s been a bumpy ride – both literally and metaphorically – for the F82-generation M4, but in the CS is the M division finally giving us the car we all crave? Photography: Stephen Hall.
EVO has had an on-off love affair with BMW’s M4. We admire its muscle-car looks, performance potential and rear-drive chassis. Being a product of M GmbH also infuses it with a desirability that rivals are still some way from achieving.
Yet it’s been a struggle to wholly fall for the M4. Its turbocharged 3-litre straight-six has the punch to fire it down a road and around a track with a force Anthony Joshua would swerve. But this has also been its downfall. So thuggish has been the delivery to the rear tyres that not only do they give up the fight for traction earlier than you are expecting, but so too does the rear suspension, throwing in the towel at the first sign of any loading through its springs and dampers. It makes for an infuriating experience, because on its day, on the right road and in the right conditions – a bone-dry, smooth surface – the M4 is your best mate. But few of us live at the Ascari race resort, so it’s often a mate you leave the pub early to avoid.
How, then, is BMW’s new M4 CS going to cope with a 29bhp increase to 454bhp and an additional 36lb ft, bringing the total to 442lb ft? The first part of the answer is the M4 Competition Package of 2016, which brought a lower ride height and stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. It greatly improved the base M4’s behaviour, even with a power increase to 444bhp. For MY18 cars, the Comp Pack itself has been improved (the upgrade has been upgraded, essentially), and it acts as a basis for the M4 CS we have here. M division chief Frank van Meel confirms there’s been not a single hardware change to the M4 CS’s chassis over that of the MY18 M4 Competition Package. Rather, he and his team have been busy with the laptops, reprogramming the M Adaptive suspension to better suit the now standard Michelin Cup 2 tyres. It’s the same situation with the electric power steering and the engine ECU, both of which have been optimised to sharpen the CS.
There are a number of further detail changes to the CS. It’s only available with the seven-speed M DCT double-clutch gearbox, and in addition to the carbonfibre roof that’s already standard on the M4, the front splitter, rear diffuser and bonnet are also carbon, the bonnet being 25 per cent lighter than the regular aluminium panel. The new bonnet also features a sizable vent ahead of the powerdome.
The 19in front and 20in rear wheels are lightweight items with 265/35 rubber at the front and 285/30 at the rear, the former being the focus for much of the damper tuning to improve steering precision. The only big mechanical change is the fitment of a more free-flowing exhaust, and due to the lack of any front speakers, there’s no sound imposer, meaning you hear an M engine playing its natural tune rather a digitally enhanced one. Other changes inside include lightweight door-cards from the GTS, a pair of manually adjustable lightweight sports seats and a steering wheel and centre-console trimmed in Alcantara.
All in all, there’s a 35kg weight saving, down to 1505kg compared to 1540kg for an M4 with an M DCT gearbox. The CS cracks 62mph in a claimed 3.9sec (two-tenths quicker than the DCT standard M4) and runs on to 174mph. And, of course, there’s a Ring lap time of 7min 38sec.
These numbers pale into the insignificant when it comes to the road, though, because whatever van Meel and his team have done to the underbelly of the CS, it has transformed the M4 from an unpredictable and ultimately frustrating performance car into one with all the character, ability and entertainment of M-cars of old. It’s how the CS reacts to your steering inputs that hits you first.
Where previous M4s have an uncomfortable dead spot and take a moment for the front tyres to react, the CS’s nose is rich in clarity, speed and precision, delivering instant confidence. The gripper Cup 2 tyres are an obvious factor in this, but the steering and setup changes allow you to commit harder because there’s a clearer sense of how the chassis is working beneath you.
Hooked into a corner, the CS feels much more stable and better balanced, the chassis allowing you to position it so much more accurately at the apex, get on the power earlier and work on your exit speed. With previous M4s this was always a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Too generous with your right foot and either the traction control went into hyperdrive or, if it was switched off, the rear tyres would vaporise. The car was as frustrating on the road as it was impressive for the cameras on track. That it also acted up when trying to put the power down in a straight line didn’t help it win friends, either.
In the CS there’s none of this. You can play the hooligan if you wish, but it’s so much more rewarding and satisfying to be able to open the throttle early in the corner and drive through the exit feeling the M-diff hook up and the chassis working the load with newfound precision.
Downsides? The #DCT gearbox now feels old in comparison to rivals and the brakes come up short, too. The standard cast-iron discs, with four-piston calipers at the front, two at the rear, are not a match for the car’s performance – it takes only a few committed stops for the pedal travel to lengthen, and while retardation doesn’t decline, the precision does. The optional carbon-ceramics help. There’s another issue. The £89,130 price tag is a £25k premium over a Competition Package, which makes it extremely hard to recommend the CS on price alone, despite it currently being the ultimate M4.
Below right: carbonceramic discs denoted by gold calipers – they’re expensive and not that easy to modulate, but are an improvement on the standard, cast-iron pieces; engine not quite in full firebreathing 493bhp GTS spec, but it is mightily potent even so.
‘The M4 CS has all the character and ability of M-cars of old’
TECHNICAL DATA FILE / SPECIFICATION #2017 / #BMW-M4-CS-F82 / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW-F82 / #BMW / 2017 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #2017-BMW-M4-CS-F82
Engine In-line 6-cyl, 2979cc, twin-turbo
Power 454bhp @ 6250rpm DIN
Torque 442lb ft @ 4000-5380rpm DIN
0-62mph 3.9sec (claimed)
Top speed 174mph (limited)
Weight 1505kg (307bhp/ton)
Basic price £89,130
+ The M4 you can finally exploit and enjoy, no matter what the road or conditions
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- Post is under moderationDare to Dream 3D Design carbon-clad M4. Back in 2006, a group of highly talented designers and engineers came together in Tokyo to reboot dormant BMW tuning parts maker 3D Design. This M4 is the culmination of everything it’s done in the ten years since Words and photography: Chris Nicholls. Dare to Dream 3D Design’s stunning carbon-clad F82 M4 under the spotlight. #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe / #BMW-4-Series-F82
The M4, for many, represents dreams. Dreams of status, dreams of amazing driving experiences and dreams of just looking at the thing and enjoying its muscular lines just one more time before walking away. This particular #BMW-4-Series-M4-F82 , however, represents a very different kind of dream – a dream to build a complete ‘tuner car’ that not only shows off your company’s expertise in designing a range of great products, but also demonstrates how well those parts work in unison when fitted together.
It’s a dream Toru Endo and his team at 3D Design have had since the brand’s rebirth ten years ago. Back in 2006, they came in to kick-start what was then a bit of a lost cause; 3D Design in its original form had been making #BMW tuning parts (mainly suspension components) since 1998, but for various reasons the company had lost any momentum and, by the time Endo-san and his crew arrived, it hadn’t released anything new for quite some time. Obviously, job one after the takeover was thus to start cranking out parts again, but given the old line-up hadn’t been a great success, Endo-san and co. decided to expand the offering to include exhausts and aero parts as well, with an end goal of offering a large enough range of components to build the aforementioned ‘complete car’.
However, because all the 3D Design staff already had many years of experience working in either OEM, aftermarket accessory or race engineering circles, slapping together a few basic designs and calling it a day wasn’t going to cut it. They vowed that, no matter what the development time and costs, they would make the best BMW parts they could, a philosophy that continues to this day. One minor detail was that they didn’t have their own manufacturing facilities, but to get around this, they partnered up with the likes of Arqray for their lovely stainless exhausts and BBS for their forged wheels, ensuring the final products were as high-end as the engineering that had gone into the design and testing. And of course, that all their products were made in Japan.
Trouble was, even with a line-up that included wheels, coilovers, aero accessories, exhausts, a boost control chip and various interior upgrades, the staff didn’t feel as if they’d reached their goal of being able to produce a ‘complete car’. So they pushed on, and decided to invest more time and resources in a couple of other key items – a carbon intake for the S55 and, most importantly, full resin-infusion carbon bumpers for the M4. Now, proper carbon bumpers (not CFRP) may seem a bit extreme, especially considering they’re usually the first things to get damaged in a crash and cop quite a bit of sandblasting just from regular road driving, but as we said earlier, the company philosophy is to offer the best, no matter what, and given carbon would allow them to integrate aero elements better, as well as save a crucial 5kg at each extreme of the car (thereby reducing moment of inertia), it seemed a natural choice. Plus, literally no one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.
Obviously, these pieces do not come cheap. The carbon intake isn’t even on sale yet in Japan, but M Style UK quoted us £6195 for the front bumper and £5695 for the rear, and when you throw in the £1482 Mulgari quoted for the dry carbon side skirts, just the basic aero kit adds considerable cost to an already expensive machine. Going down the complete car route, which adds a dry carbon rear lip spoiler, dry-carbon racing wing, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, coilovers, forged 20-inch Anniversary 01 wheels, a DME Tuning Stage 2 engine remap, Brembo GT big brake kit and all the company’s interior mods, will no doubt jack up the price to potentially terrifying levels, but no one said the best ever came cheap. And when you look at the fit, finish and quality of each of 3D Design’s products (the bumpers fit so well you’d genuinely think they were official Motorsport upgrades), there is no doubt that they’re among the very best in each sector they compete in.
As for the overall effect these changes make, at least in terms of appearance (we only had a short time with the car and thus couldn’t drive it), it’s quite staggering. The stock M4 is a muscular beast, but the 3D Design version takes it up a notch in every respect. The cleaner, more integrated lines of the front bumper lead down to quite a protruding lip spoiler, and the fact the company has kept the lower half naked carbon really adds to the impact.
The sleek skirts define the car’s flanks better and make it look lower than it actually is, while the rear end is just a whole lot buffer thanks to the large (but not ridiculous) wing, bootlid lip and again, that half-painted carbon bumper. Keen-eyed readers will note 3D Design has placed cuts on each side of it too, which allow turbulent air to exit the rear wheels better and should improve stability. One interesting side effect of all this extra aggression is that the car actually looks more like a sports car – something that should cheer all those who now consider the M4 a GT – and at least in this writer and photographer’s opinion, does a better job of integrating all that aero than the GTS. BMW take note. Finally, those wheels are just perfect against the Sapphire black paint, aren’t they?
Inside, there’s less of an impact simply because there are fewer changes. Yes, the switch to customembroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere, as does the switch to 3D Design’s alloy pedals, brake lever and shift paddles, but it still feels very much like an M4, only sportier. In many respects, the biggest change to the ambience actually comes from the Stack gauges, mounted in a lovely 3D Design pod at the bottom of the centre console. These, while looking pretty modern with their machined housings and austere faces, are still very much an old-school performance car touch in what is otherwise a very modern interior, so they do stand out and make the car feel just that little less GT-like (again). By the way, you can ignore that little display mounted to driver’s right, as it’s just a small speed camera detector. Don’t worry, they’re perfectly legal in Japan, and sadly more necessary than ever these days, thanks to the growing number of cameras on the roads there.
In terms of the effect the mechanical changes have, obviously we couldn’t sample most of those, but we have little reason to doubt the coilovers will benefit the handling, given 3D Design, unlike most of its Japanese contemporaries, designs and develops its coilovers explicitly for road use and thus makes them supple. (There is a remote reservoir track coilover in the works for the M4 should you want that, though). And again, there’s little reason to believe the DME re-flash, which, combined with the intake and exhaust bumps power up to 522hp at 6000rpm and torque to a stupid 561lb ft at just 2000rpm, won’t do the job in terms of making the car much, much faster, either. Nor that the Brembo GT big brake kit won’t do a stellar job of bringing the car’s speed down to normal levels, even after heavy track use.
While we didn’t sample the power it helps provide, we can heartily recommend the cat-back mid-pipe and muffler combination in terms of pure sound though, as we did get to sample its sonorous delights during our rolling shot session across the Tokyo Gate Bridge. Like most products on this car, it’s not cheap, with the full system setting you back £6334 from M Style UK, but its unique sound may well be worth it, depending on your priorities. We say that because the 3D Design product is by far the most subtle of the aftermarket M4 exhausts we’ve heard, with a start up that won’t upset the neighbours, and an ultra-smooth timbre as the revs rise. Indeed, it almost makes the S55 sound like an angry, tuned S54 , which is quite a feat. If you live in Japan and are reading this, the only downside is that the system won’t pass the strict shaken periodic roadworthy test there, but if you’re willing to switch back to stock for one day every couple of years, it’s not an issue, and we certainly don’t see it being a problem in most other countries.
So, having produced this ‘dream car’ and fulfilled the company’s original ambition, how does Endo-san feel? As he puts it, “we’ve never been about selling parts per sé. We’ve always developed parts with an eye to exciting the driver, whether it’s via improved styling, or upgraded ride, handling or engine feel. So when I got in the completed car the first time, there was a feeling of ‘we’ve finally done it’; that we’d achieved our goal of being able to excite the driver in every way we could”. Unsurprisingly, the positive impression continued when he drove it, too. “It’s now much more of a sports car to drive. The engine response has improved, as has the handling, so it now accelerates and points exactly the way you tell it to”.
Having said all that, 3D Design’s journey towards selling a complete car isn’t quite over yet. There’s the small matter of actually building a Tokyo showroom, which begins in May, and signing an agreement with a local dealer to supply brand new M4s the company can add all its bits to as well. After that, it may look at expanding its dealership reach past the nation’s capital, but Endo-san says that’s not been decided upon yet. No doubt there are plans afoot for more parts for other BMWs too. At the recent Tokyo Auto Salon, for example, it had a few prototype M2 parts on display, including an intercooler, race-use exhaust (similar to the M4 one) and race-oriented coilovers, so that model may well be next. A slightly more affordable dream? Maybe. Either way, an exciting one we’ll be sure to keep track of.
Contact: 3D Design / Web: www.3ddesign.jp
The switch to custom-embroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere
TECHNICAL FATA FILE #3D-Design / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #BMW-M4-F82-Tuned / #DME-Tuning-Stage-2 / #DME-Tuning /
Engine: Twin-turbo, 24-valve, straight-six, #Valvetronic , double #Vanos , direct injection / #S55B30T0 / #S55 / #BMW-S55
Max Power: 529.6PS @ 6000rpm
Max Torque: 561lb ft @ 2000rpm
Engine: 3D Design carbon airbox with #BMC filter element, #DME-Tuning-Stage-2-ECU remap
Exhaust : 3D Design cat-back stainless mid-pipe and valve-controlled stainless quad-tip muffler
Wheels & Tyres : #3D-Design-Anniversary-01 forged monobloc wheels 9.5x20-inches (f) and 10.5x20-inch (r) with 235/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Yokohama Advan Sport V105 tyres.
Suspension: 3D Design machined alloy dampers with 20-step compression and rebound damping control and 6kg/mm (f) and 8kg/mm (r) springs
Brakes : #Brembo-GT big brake kit with six piston calipers (f) and four-piston calipers (r) and 405mm (f) and 380mm (r) slotted rotors
Styling: 3D Design resin-infusion carbon front and rear bumper, cry carbon side skirts, dry carbon Racing wing, dry carbon bootlid spoiler, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, body stripe stickers
Interior: 3D Design sports pedal kit, hand brake lever, shift paddles, floormats, Stack gauge kit and custom-embroidered Recaro Sportster seats
No one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAn updated version of BMW’s excellent turbocharged ’six keeps the 4 Series Coupé fresh, even before its #2017 MY updates. Words: Shane O’ Donoghue. Photography: Nick Maher. The Definition of a BMW Behind the Wheel. The 4 Series might be about to be face-lifted but we couldn’t resist the charms of the 440i.
While I know I’m preaching to the converted on these pages when advocating the advantages of rear-wheel-drive, we must remember that there are many drivers, a very many, that see it as a negative. One such person is part of my extended family and he describes BMWs as ‘skittish’ – tarring them all with the same broad brush. The less charitable among you might suggest he gets some driving lessons, but the sad truth is that the majority of motorists have zero interest in which axle is driven. That’s probably why we’re seeing a slow but sure move away from focus on the layout from BMW. The 2 Series Active Tourer kicked things off and there’s more than a slight rumour that the next generation 1 Series will adopt a front-wheel drive set-up. On top of all that, xDrive four-wheel drive is being made more prevalent across the #BMW line-up, as evidenced by the focus on it at the launch of the G30 5 Series.
So it was a pleasure to return home from that event to an awaiting car that, in reality, should be considered old-school-BMW. The model in question was a 440i Coupé, pre-LCI, in M Sport specification, which (if you know your BMW-flavoured onions), you’ll know is only offered in rear-wheel-drive guise. Ah bliss. None of your diesel or namby-pamby four-wheel-drive here thanks, just the latest iteration of BMW’s creamy smooth turbocharged straight-six, a hike in power to 326hp coinciding with the name change from 435i to 440i, accompanied by a solid 332lb ft of torque from just 1380rpm. It warms my heart that there’s still a manual version of this car on the BMW UK price list, but most will pay the one-and-a-half grand more it takes to upgrade to the eight-speed ‘Sport’ automatic for future resale value. It also drops the carbon dioxide emissions considerably, reducing VED tax and, if you’re fortunate enough to be buying a car such as this through a business, Benefit-in-kind taxation – the latter by a significant four percent. Theoretically the auto is more economical too, though we suspect there’s little in it in the real world.
Although the 4 Series is undergoing its midlife nip and tuck soon, and this car’s analogue instruments and non-touch iDrive screen appear old-fashioned next to its newer big brothers, it’s still a remarkably good cabin. It’s simple to use, well laid out, tactile to the touch and, perhaps still of some surprise to many, quite spacious inside. Sure, the rear seats aren’t as capacious as those up front, but the boot is large by any measure and the generously glazed areas make the whole car feel airy in any case.
Oddly, the ‘old’ 4 Series cabin has, in my book, one preferred item over the new 5 Series, and that’s the indicator stalk. The new G30 reverts to a simple ‘stays on in position’ stalk, while the 4 Series has what I consider to be a more modern design and operation. Strange.
And while I love a manual gearbox as much as the next petrolhead, BMW’s eight-speed auto is, as I may have mentioned once or thrice on these pages, an absolute gem. The characteristics change brought about by selecting the various driving modes is very well-judged. By default, the transmission is smooth, comfortable and quick to use the higher gears in a bid to improve economy. Choose the Sport mode, however, and it helps the car come alive. Leave it to its own devices and the shifts are snappier and precise, while the engine is allowed to rev for longer before the next change up. It’s still silky-smooth, mind, even if there is a gratuitous flare of revs accompanying each down-shift. We approve.
Now go for Sport Plus and take control for yourself via the deliciously metallic gearchange paddles; that’s the 440i at its best. The upshifts are more assertive and response to the paddles is instantaneous. At the same time, the engine becomes more audible, though, I confess, I’d like it to be considerably louder again when in this setting. Response to the throttle is sharpened, the power steering assistance is reduced (shame the good-looking steering wheel is so large though) and by default the stability and traction control systems are switched into a mid-setting. This is wonderfully useful for within-the-law public road driving on interesting roads, especially when it’s a little damp underfoot. It’s possible on tighter corners, exiting in second, to provoke a momentary rear slide that the electronics then allow you to gather up intuitively for yourself, or, if your brain was otherwise occupied, intervening to prevent embarrassment. At higher speeds, this leeway translates into a lovely rear-led stance out of curves as you unwind the steering and let the rear axle do part of the work. You don’t need to be on track or at licence-shredding speeds to enjoy the delicacy of this chassis in a highly rewarding fashion.
With the #DSC and #DTC system full engaged, it’s a completely different sensation. In the dry there’s so much grip and traction available that the electronics have little to do unless you’re being a complete hooligan, but in the wet they are simply brilliant, cutting power almost presciently before loss of traction at the rear wheels translates into even the slightest of ‘moments’. It’s virtually fool-proof, and I reckon even my aforementioned ‘skittish’ family member could be talked into giving it a go. The best news of course is that you, the converted, don’t lose out on what makes a #BMW coupé like this special in a bid to make it safe and sanitised for the masses. Hallelujah to that.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F32 / #BMW-440i-Coupe / #BMW-440i-Coupe-F32 / #BMW-440i-F32 / #BMW / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F32 / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe-F32
Engine: Turbocharged straight-six, 24-valve
Max Power: 326hp @ 5500rpm
Max Torque: 32lb ft @ 1380-5000rpm
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Economy : 42.8mpg emissions (CO²): 154g/km
Weight (EU): 1630kg
Price (OTR): £43,755Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIf you’re looking for the ultimate everyday machine that’s also capable of embarrassing junior supercars then you should check out Birds’ wonderful 435d. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.
/ #BMW-435d-xDrive-F32 / #BMW-435d-F32 / #BMW-435d-xDrive / #BMW-435d / #BMW-F32 / #BMW / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F32 / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe-F32 / #2017 / #Birds-B4 / #Birds-B4-F32 / #Birds-F32 / #BMW-435d-xDrive-Birds-B4 / #BMW-435d-xDrive-Birds-B4-F32 / #BMW-435d-Birds-B4-F32 / #BMW-F32-Birds
Birds’ stunning #BMW-435d-xDrive . Everyday Weapon Birds’ 435d can be either a mild-mannered pussycat or a ripsnorting road warrior.
Depending on which order you’ve read the features in this month’s issue you might have spotted a recurring theme, that of traction. The M235i we drove suffered from a lack of it to a certain extent and the two big power M6’s pace was really hampered by an inability to transmit their prodigious thrust to the greasy Tarmac. Put simply, none of these three cars would have seen which way #Birds ’ innocuous-looking 435d went had we driven them back-to-back on typically slick UK winter roads. Not only is this car devastatingly quick, it also has the ability to be so no matter what the conditions.
I must admit that I’m not normally a huge fan of the ‘Luxury’ trim level that BMW’s foisted on us for the past few years, and it would seem that I’m not alone – the new G30 Five won’t be available as a Luxury model in the UK and neither will the face-lifted 4 Series Coupé that you can read about in our News pages. The bottom line is that hardly anyone was buying the Luxury trim models. Maybe I’m a marketing man’s dream, but I’m a succour for the chunky M Sport styling and now I’m in a position that I’ll be looking to buy my own wheels again I’m drawn to the M Sport kitted used examples like a moth to a candle despite knowing that the equivalent SE will be cheaper to buy and will ride better too! Having said all this I’m also secretly drawn to this Birds car – yes, I know it’s a Luxury, but look at it, it’s just so innocuous – no one would expect it to be a candidate for the ultimate everyday weapon, and in the right conditions a supercar humbler.
We’ve always been impressed with machinery that’s been fully-fettled by Birds as MD Kevin Bird doesn’t do things by halves. While he could simply fit a range of off the shelf tuning products he’d be the first to admit that would be selling his customers short. Sure, there are some parts that can be simply fitted to make an improvement, but to do things properly Kevin always buys a demonstrator to which he can experiment with until he’s happy with the outcome and can then pass on that knowledge to his customers in a series of suitable upgrades safe in the knowledge that the car will be right straight from the word go.
The F3x generation of 3 and 4 Series have been with us for a while now so Kevin’s had quite a while to perfect his upgrades for the car, and without a doubt he’s spent the most amount of time on the car’s suspension as he feels that BMW has lost the plot to a certain degree with its most recent F-prefix cars. He’s not a fan of the adaptive dampers as they never seem to offer the right reactions when extracting the performance from the car – they may be fine for providing a comfortable ride when you’re in cruise mode, but so can a passive set up if it’s properly designed and set up.
After having looked at just about everything the aftermarket had to offer Kevin embarked on the process of having a suspension set up designed to his specifications. While Kevin knows how he wants his cars to perform he’s happy to admit that he doesn’t have the knowledge required to draw out a damper curve for a suspension specialist to work with so he’s enrolled the help of chassis engineers to assist him in the quest for the perfect set up. We’ve had a chance to sample this work on a couple of cars and have always come away impressed, and it was no different on this 435d. Springs and dampers have been attended to and the result is a machine that resists understeer far more effectively than before and one which engenders a real feeling of confidence in what the car’s response is going to be to any given input.
We’ll look at this a little more in a minute but for the time being let’s have a quick look at what else has been installed on Birds’ B4-35d demonstrator. It’s perhaps a sign of the times that diesels are able to develop pretty high power outputs to go with their prodigious torque capabilities and perhaps because of this BMW to a certain extent holds back the outputs of its twin-turbo diesel motors. Straight out of the box the 435d develops 313hp and 465lb ft of torque but after its been treated to the Birds engine management software upgrade we’re looking at an altogether healthier 380hp and a monstrous 575lb ft of torque. Kevin has looked at the various tuning boxes on the market and has concluded that he prefers to have the software reprogrammed as it gives you more control on what changes are being made. Additionally some tuning boxes only really deliver once you’ve applied at least 70 percent throttle, and with these turbo diesel lumps offering so much low down the rev range it’s nice to be able to access the additional performance on part throttle.
From the power and torque figures you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to glean that this is going to be one very rapid 4 Series so Birds has taken the sensible step of offering a brake upgrade on the car too. Birds recommends a 19-inch wheel on the 4 Series and this allows the fitment of its #Alcon 365x32mm discs, gripped by six-piston callipers. This set up features grooved discs, low weight alloy hubs and lightweight callipers and Birds reckon they allow excellent retardation from cold all the way up to the highest temperatures they can generate. On the subject of wheels and tyres it’s worth noting that the first thing Birds would recommend is ditching the runflats if your car is so equipped as the benefits of any suspension work will be negated if these are retained.
The kit we’ve so far discussed – springs and dampers, a set of 19-inch non-run flats, the performance upgrade and the Alcon brakes – are packaged together by Birds as what it terms its complete conversion for the 435d and while it might look a lot at a smidgen over £8000 (including all parts, labour and VAT) it offers to transform the performance of your 3 Series or 4 Series. Quality components don’t come cheap and it’s also worth remembering Birds offers a 24-month warranty on complete conversions so obviously has complete confidence in the products it offers. For those wishing to add additional items – such as anti-roll bars or a Quaife limited slip differential – these can again be bundled together as part of a package or added individually as the customer wishes. One of the joys in visiting Birds is that the company accepts that each of its customers may have slightly differing requirements and is happy to tailor its products and advice accordingly.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating though so we set forth from Birds HQ to cruise up the M40 to our photoshoot location where some challenging roads await. Obviously we’re expecting it to perform well when the going gets tough, but in order for the Birds car to fulfil its duality of purpose it first needs to be able to demonstrate that it’s a usable everyday machine in cut and thrust traffic. Initial impressions are favourable with the eight-speed auto quietly and unobtrusively doing its thing in the background while tickling the throttle every now and then is accompanied by a meaningful shove in the back, even on part throttle loads. Having just stepped out of a car sitting on much smaller wheels and with no pretensions to being a sporting machine the ride does, at first, seem to be a little on the hard side but as the miles pass under the 435d’s wheels we become accustomed to the slightly firmer than standard set up and end up not being able to fault the car’s behaviour on the motorway. It rides the crests and troughs very well, always seeming to be able to complete its movement before hitting the next bump or road imperfection whereas sometimes in a normal BMW you’re left with the feeling that the underpinnings are still trying to deal with one road imperfection when it hits the next which can have an unsettling effect.
Pulling off the motorway and onto some more demanding roads and the 435d demonstrates what a devastatingly quick cross-country machine this can be.
There’s power and torque seemingly everywhere in the rev range and you can have the choice of using delicate and measured inputs to ride the wave of torque or being a bit more brutal in which case the eight-speed auto drops cogs with alacrity and flies you up the road, slurring one ratio into the next as only that #ZF ‘box can do. And it’s at this point that you realise you haven’t dialled in Sport mode and once you do there seems to be a whole new level of performance to dip into.
At which point one is invariably really travelling so it’s reassuring that those Alcon brakes can wash off speed without breaking into a sweat – the pedal feels is very reassuring and even on the slippery sections of road we encounter it resists the temptation to trigger the ABS very well. Invariably though once one has knocked a chunk of speed off the dial when tackling the corner that one wanted to slow for it becomes apparent that you’ve actually washed off too much speed and that the 435d could corner much quicker. In fast sweepers the chassis inspires real confidence, gripping hard and resisting understeer very effectively while it’s a similar story amongst the tighter stuff, too. The front end clings on for dear life and the only thing you really have to do is to remember to get onto the throttle earlier than you would in an equivalent rear-wheel drive BMW so you can bring the front axle’s drive capabilities into play, and when you do you can feel the front end pulling you through just as the rear tyres start to scrabble for grip. It’s deeply satisfying and we can’t really imagine that there are all that many machines that would show this 435d a clean set of exhaust pipes, especially on these tight roads where a bigger machine would struggle somewhat.
Once we’ve finished playing and got a set of pictures in the bag it’s time to head home and sample the car’s cruising abilities once again. Snapper Gus gets behind the wheel and once we emerge back at Birds HQ he’s got a big smile on his face and concludes “That’s quite a weapon isn’t it.” Quite so. Swapping back into my everyday car I couldn’t help but feel how sloppy and stodgy it felt, it had felt fine in the morning!
This 435d is currently up for sale at Birds so if you fancy a stunning everyday supercar slayer that will pass quietly under the radar we’d very much urge you to get in touch. We can’t imagine it’ll hang around for long…
CONTACT: #BMW-F30-Birds / Tel: 01753 657444 / Web: www.birdsauto.com
There’s power and torque seemingly everywhere in the rev range
Birds-B4 component prices
ENGINE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE 380HP: £2106
B4 XDRIVE ANTI-ROLL BAR KIT: £914
QUAIFE BMW LSD CONVERSION: £1605
B4 SPORT SUSPENSION: From £1723
EXCHANGE QUAIFE BMW FINAL DRIVE: £1710
SPORT SUSPENSION SPRINGS: £679
ALCON AE BRAKE KIT FRONT, 365X32: £2862
ALCON AE BRAKE KIT REAR, 343X28: £2377
OZ WHEEL & TYRES SET: POA
Please note: All prices quoted within this panel refer to components fitted individually not as part of a B4 Dynamic Package. Prices include parts and labour but not VAT.
/ #Birds-B4-Package prices
B4-3.5d 380HP COMPLETE CONVERSION: £6803
Engine management software, Alcon 365mm front brakes, B4 Sport suspension, 19-inch non-run flat tyres
B4 DYNAMICS PACKAGE 1 £2312
B4 anti-roll bar kit, Quaife LSD
B4 DYNAMICS PACKAGE 2: £3096
B4 anti-roll bar kit, Sport suspension springs, #Quaife LSD
B4 DYNAMICS PACKAGE 3: £4039
B4 anti-roll bar kit, B4 Sport suspension, #Quaife-LSD
Please note: All prices quoted with this panel include parts and labour but not VAT.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.