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    The M4 is an extremely capable machine but there’s plenty more potential to be unlocked, and that’s exactly what Thorney Motorsport has been busy doing. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Thorney Motorsport M4

    As far as all-rounders go, the M3 and M4 are really hard to beat. BMW’s move from glorious, high-revving NA V8 to less exciting twin-turbo straight-six was, we suppose, inevitable in terms of the way the motoring world is headed, but while it may not deliver the same sort of spinetingling soundtrack as the S65 V8 did, you really can’t knock the S55. It’s got masses of easily accessible torque, it’s got a big-hitting top end and, driven gently, you can nudge 30mpg, plus the affordable tuning potential is on another planet compared with the S65.

    It’s wrapped up in a car that’s, relatively speaking, pretty lightweight – lighter than the E9x M3 – but not short on luxury and creature comforts. As an all-round performance machine it’s nigh-on unbeatable. Of course, that’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement, and Thorney Motorsport has been really getting under the skin of the M4 to make it the best it can be.

    Now most of us, upon the purchase of a new car, will likely go for a drop, sort out some new wheels and look at getting more power out of it, because that’s just what you do. We’d be happy with that but Thorney Motorsport takes a different, far more measured approach because it’s not modding a car for fun, it’s developing parts that it will sell and it wants to make sure that the car they combine to create is a fullyfledged, finely-honed performance machine.

    The M4, you’d think, would be the perfect candidate for a series of improvements to bring out its best, but Thorney has had a somewhat thorny relationship with its M4 and, while many owners are delighted with their cars, we’ve heard of a surprising amount who, after the initial delight of their M3s and M4s had worn off, realised they weren’t happy and were looking at swapping to an E9x M3 instead. So what gives?

    “We do a lot of Vauxhall tuning alongside our #BMW work,” explains owner John Thorne, “and I had customers who’d switched from their Astra VXRs to M4s complaining about the handling and traction, saying the car was hard work and they weren’t enjoying it. One guy sold his within a month and a half of buying it. I told them they needed to learn to drive but then we bought our one and I realised there was a problem. In a straight line, it’s fine, but in corners the traction control is forever cutting in and the rear feels loose. Driven hard on the road, it’s a not a good handling car.” That’s surprising to hear but then again, how many of us really push our cars that hard and how many of us have the motorsport experience to be able to analyse exactly what a car’s doing? The handling, therefore, became John’s focus with his tuning programme for the M4 and his desire to tame the M4 and turn it into the car he knows it could be brings to mind one man’s obsession with a certain white whale, but where that made for a great novel this will make for a great driver’s car.

    “We went for the geometry first, but there’s not much adjustment and it made no difference, so we went for the springs next. Initially we tried Eibachs, which we found too soft, and we tried Teins which were far too hard, so then we tried H&R’s higher springs, which made no difference, and then went for its lowest offering, which we’re running on the car now. They give a 40mm drop and have really made a difference to how the car feels; previously, the car just couldn’t put the power down in Sport or Sport Plus and in Comfort it was too soft, but now on the Sport setting there’s a lot more grip and it feels more stable through the corners. Though it’s certainly not perfect,” he says, but it’s a cost effective upgrade which makes the car much better.

    “I drove a Competition pack car and while it offers more outright grip it’s no better in corners than the standard car; the additional grip is welcome, though, so we’re going to fit a set of Toyo R888s,” explains John. “We’re going to go wider at the back, 285 or maybe even 295, but we’re going to stick with the stock front tyre width as there’s no understeer, just no rear grip.

    “We’re working directly with Bilstein to develop dampers for the car, but they have to retain the adjustability of the EDC – the same as its E9x M3 damper, in fact, a plug and play solution. I’ve told Bilstein how the car needs to handle, that the slow speed damper compression needs to be softer and that the rebound is currently too stiff.

    Bilstein’s damper curve is much softer on low speed stuff, which is good. We get sent a new set of dampers to test, we make notes of the changes we’d like and then Bilstein sends another set and we see what’s been changed and we carry on like this until we’re both satisfied. The right Bilsteins could transform this car and it would be a Porsche-beater, but we’re not there just yet.

    We’re close, though,” he smiles. “That’s our target for each car: to be able to beat Porsches on track. In a straight line, the M4 is quicker than a 911 GT3 RS, but not in the corners, at least no just yet…”

    While the handling may be a bone of contention, the perfect setup is not far off and in the meantime Thorney has found a good solution to tame the M4’s wayward handling habits, one that not only doesn’t cost the earth but also actively encourages you to go for an aggressive drop.

    One area where the M4 is certainly not lacking is performance and it’s also an area where getting the best out of the car requires a lot less effort. It’s surprising how much of a difference the little things make. “The first thing we did was to run the car for three tanks of fuel using 95 octane unleaded then dyno’d it and then we ran it for three tanks of super and dyno’d it again. On regular unleaded the car was 25hp down on the stated power output of 431hp at the top end, so it’s worth only running it on super.

    “The next step was to develop our own remap. It took 96 dyno runs before we were completely happy with the mapping; the remap is our Stage 1 upgrade, which takes power up to 490hp. Stage 2 adds the exhaust, as fitted to this car. It’s a full system, mandrel bent, with 3” piping throughout and also includes 200 cell and 62g cats. This adds another 40hp on top of the remap for a running total of 530hp. Stage 3 will be an oil cooler and bigger chargecooler setup which we’re working on now.” For the moment, though, 530hp is plenty to be getting on with.

    “We’ve also added braided lines to the brakes and while we’re working with Pagid to develop a pad for the car, on the road they’re fine and don’t really need to be upgraded. If you want the best brakes possible for track use then I’d recommend ticking the carbon ceramic brake kit box when you’re ordering the car,” he says. And, while the M4 is not a car that’s lacking in the looks department, John has also worked on the car’s styling, adding an M Performance front lip to fill out the front bumper and a Thorney Motorsport carbon rear wing based on the GT4 racer’s spoiler.

    It would have been rude to come all the way up to Thorney’s Silverstone HQ and not take the M4 out for a spin and John is keen for me to have a go, especially after I’d just driven Thorney’s track-built E92 M3, and it’s not a hardship to agree to go for a play in his 530hp machine. The first thing you notice is the noise; the M4 isn’t a quiet car and now there’s even more volume to the soundtrack. It still can’t hold a candle to the S65 V8 but if you like your performance cars to sound aggressive the Thorney exhaust system doesn’t disappoint.

    The next thing you notice is the power or, rather, the torque. There’s just so much of it; punch the throttle hard at anything above tickover and your head is forced into the headrest, it’s that brutal. In fact, brutal really does do a very good job of describing the power delivery of this car, it’s instant and you get so much of it that it’s all you can do but hang on for dear life. Driving this car makes you feel that there’s no need for any more performance. Any more would be silly, which might sound weird coming from a modified BMW magazine but it just feels so utterly relentless that there’s no situation this car could not deal with.

    And that’s before we even get onto the power; 90% of the driving experience is being battered by that brutal onslaught of torque, which propels the car to stupid speeds on even the lightest of throttle applications but when the road allows you the chance to open this M4 up the power is absurd. The delivery is relentless, completely un-turbo-like, and the power keeps on coming all the way to the redline, at which point you must decide whether or not you want to snatch the next gear and go again, or back off and breathe, because the M4’s been accelerating so hard that you’ve forgotten about your basic functions.

    In terms of the chassis, the ride is still firm and the traction control seems busy most of the time meaning you really want to find the smoothest, flattest Tarmac before exploring the upper echelons of this M4’s performance envelope. It certainly feels like a more stable beast through the corners, though, and gives you enough confidence to be able to enjoy pushing the car. For the cost of set of springs, if you’re serious about exploiting all of the performance your M4 has to offer, it’s a no-brainer.

    Thorney Motorsport’s modified M4 is a ferocious, furious machine which delivers an intense driving experience and feels as fast as you’d ever need or want a car to feel. But while there’s more performance work to come from Thorney along with the aforementioned ongoing quest for the perfect suspension setup that will unlock this car’s full potential, John’s plans go far beyond that: “In the short term I might change the wheels and I want better seats.

    I’m not impressed with the standard ones and I’m looking at #HRX race buckets but the ultimate goal is to take this car to the level of the M4 GTS, but better.” That’s exactly what the goal was with the company’s E92 M3 and, judging by our experience with that.

    Exhaust system looks the part, with quad carbon tips, and delivers real performance gains.

    Exterior has been enhanced with GT4-style spoiler.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Thorney-Motorsport / #BMW-M4-Thorney-Motorsport-F82 / #Thorney-Motorsport-F82 / #Thorney-Motorsport-M4 / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #2016 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW-4-Series-M4 / #BMW-4-Series-M4-F82

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #BMW-S55 / #S55 , custom #TMS-remap , high-flow air filters, 3” bore mandrel bent custom full exhaust system with twin silencers, 200 cell 62g cats and quad carbon fibre exhaust tip trims, seven-sped #M-DCT gearbox

    POWER 530hp

    CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) Style 437M wheels with 15mm spacers and 255/40 (front) and 275/40 (rear) tyres, #H&R 40mm lowering springs, custom geometry setup, braided brake lines

    EXTERIOR M Performance front splitter and air intakes, #TMS #GT4-style carbon fibre rear wing, #TMS-M-Sport livery

    INTERIOR All Stock
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    / #BMW / #BMW-M4-DTM-Champion-Edition announced / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW-4-Series-M4 / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW / #BMW-M4-DTM-Champion-Edition-F82 /

    BMW has a long tradition of bringing out special edition models to celebrate racing success – think back to the E30 M3 and we had the Europa Meister, Cecotto and Ravaglia models – while in more recent times DTM success has been rewarded with a series of Champion Edition models. Hence the arrival of the latest M4 edition to celebrate Marco Wittmann’s second DTM driver’s title at the wheel of his Red Bull M4 DTM.

    The road-going version won’t be quite so extreme as his race car, but the limited run 2016 Champion Edition does feature a number of upgrades over a standard M4 Coupé. For starters it’s packing the same water-injected twin-turbo straight-six as the M4 GTS which is good for 500hp and 443lb ft of torque which endows it with a 0-62mph time of 3.8 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 190mph.

    The M4’s handling has been refined thanks to a set of three-way adjustable coilovers and it’s been on a weight loss program too, with the bonnet and instrument panel support being constructed from CFRP and the exhaust is a part titanium system. To ensure it stops as well as it goes it’s equipped with the carbon ceramic brake setup. Wheels are the 19- and 20-inch (front and rear respectively) #Style-666M items from the GTS but for this application they’re painted in a matt Orbit grey finish.

    Externally the DTM Champion Edition can be identified by its Alpine white paintwork and a number of upgrades such as its carbon front spoiler, carbon aero flicks on the front corners, mirror caps, side-skirt attachments, rear diffuser and an M Performance rear wing.

    Inside the rear seats have been ditched in favour of a half cage while the front seats have been replaced with a pair of M Carbon buckets finished in Alcantara and Merino leather. The rest of the cockpit is swathed in dark Alcantara while the seat belts feature the M colours in their weave like those on the M4 Competition models.

    The M4 DTM Champion edition will be limited to 200 examples and will cost 148,500 Euros – just about double the price of an standard M4.
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    Stunning 520hp M4 tested MOTECH #BMW-M4 / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW-4-Series-M4 / #BMW-4-Series-F32 / #BMW

    Lean Green Flying Machine A stunning Java green M4 with a full set of choice performance modifications.

    It’s not just the colour that makes this M4 stand out from the crowd as it’s packing a serious power hike among some other tasty modifications. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    I may have mentioned this before but our company chairman used to have a fondness for the expression, ‘if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly!’ We discovered this one day when he appeared in the office wearing what can only be described as a ‘rather interesting’ tie – you know, the sort that one of those programmes on the TV populated by so-called fashion gurus would have had a fit about. To call it bright would have been the understatement of the century. And we can only imagine this sort of ‘if you’re going to be a bear…’ thought process must have gone through the owner of this M4’s mind when he signed on the dotted line for this rather wonderful Java green M4 Coupé. It turns out that he’d actually gone to his local dealer to put an order in for an altogether more straight-laced M3 Saloon, but when he clapped eyes on this M4 which had just been delivered to the dealership to be a demo car it was love at first sight.

    But it’s not the colour that first grabs my attention as I can hear it coming long before I can see it. We’re camped out at a photo location we know of in the wilds of Northamptonshire and at first it sounds as if there’s a Chinook helicopter on exercises somewhere in the distance, but after a few seconds this doesn’t make sense as the sound isn’t constant – it rises and falls every couple of seconds or so. Whatever it is it’s getting closer though and eventually we see the Java green M4 spearing along the lanes with the sun glinting off its freshly polished paint and even when its surrounded by lush green vegetation it still stands out from the crowd.

    As the M4 sits quietly ticking away to itself as it cools down from its workout we quiz Motech’s Mike Hodder as to what exactly we have before us. Mike has been involved with tuning BMWs for more years than he cares to remember and instead of just offering remapping services with which he’s still very much involved, he’s now offering what he likes to think of as a one-stop tuning solution for busy owners of BMWs. While some owners might have the time and inclination to visit one company for an exhaust, another for a remap and another for some styling upgrades, Mike’s increasingly finding that many owners would like to have all the work carried out at once at the same company.

    Thus this M4 is sporting what he’s calling the ‘M520’ package, and yes that figure does refer to the car’s power output. At the heart of this particular conversion are a couple of Remus products: a Powerizer and an exhaust system. Over the years Mike’s become a big fan of Remus products – its expertise with exhausts is second-to-none and you may well be surprised as to quite how many manufacturers Remus make exhausts for. We’ll start with the Powerizer which is a tuning box that brings power up from 431hp to 520hp – a pretty significant gain – while torque is also swelled from 406lb ft to 472lb ft. Like most tuning boxes it’s a plug-and-play item that’s fairly easily plumbed into the car’s electronics with the supplied wiring kit and it gently manipulates signals from the ECU to make its gains.

    The fact that Remus’ Powerizer has full TÜV certification gives you peace of mind too. It’s not the Powerizer that’s responsible for all the noise though, that’s down to the full Remus system that replaces everything aft of the downpipes. The fully stainless system is beautifully made and has been fully reengineered by Remus’ boffins at their state-of-the-art R&D centre. As is the way these days, it’s a switchable system meaning that it can be quiet and discreet when you want it to be or strident and vocal when you’re feeling a little more extrovert – as we heard earlier on.

    Completing the M520 package are a set of Pipercross air filters that are a direct swap for the OEM items. Pipercross reckons its filters have a vastly improved surface area and that the carefully selected multi-layered foam within the filters offer 30 percent more airflow which is never a bad thing – an engine that can breathe properly should always be a strong performer. These three modifications – Powerizer, exhaust and Pipercross filters – add up to the M520 package and when the work’s carried out at the same time they offer pretty decent value for money – at £2898 you’re seeing some excellent power improvements for your money.

    Motech doesn’t just deal with the power side of the equation though as this car is sporting some tasty styling upgrades too. The 20-inch wheels will be a matter of personal taste – I usually like my wheels to be silver but these black DForged items do look good when set off against the Java paintwork and what’s a very nice touch on this particular machine is that the brake callipers have also been painted in Java green. The standard fit blue callipers with their M logos didn’t really look quite right with the car’s exterior colour. Whether or not the 20-inch alloys will actually improve the driving experience on our lumpy roads is a moot point but there’s no doubting they fill the arches nicely and look very good indeed.

    Elsewhere around the car you’ll find some nice carbon additions – around the huge front air intakes and a splitter just below the front spoiler along with a rather natty little ducktail spoiler atop the bootlid and a nice diffuser around the quad pipes on the Remus exhaust. This particular machine has the carbon tips to the Remus exhaust and it has to be said they really do look the part. As is the case with carbon exterior parts they don’t come cheap, well certainly not for quality components such as these, but at £540 for the three-part front spoiler, £660 for the rear diffuser and £276 for the rear spoiler these particular items do seem to be very keenly priced and look to be of high quality with a nice lustre displaying the carbon weave underneath.

    The last couple of changes that have been wrought can’t be seen but include au Ultra Racing lower rear strut brace to tighten up the rear end and a set of Eibach lowering springs which lower the M4 by 20mm. These won’t be the end of the chassis changes though, Mike’s currently experimenting with a couple of different options which should help the M4 to use its power to good effect.

    That’s enough of the theory though and now that photographer Smithy’s got his pictures in the bag it’s time to experience the performance for ourselves. Before we put the hammer down we start off by getting familiar with the M4 again and driven at moderate speeds it’s as refined and cultured as you could want it to be. The exhaust’s muted, the additional power is slumbering and you could almost be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about.

    The roads around here are lightly trafficked and have some wonderfully inviting sections that are wellsighted and allow you to really drive quite hard and in these circumstances the M4 really comes alive. It’s been set up so that when you engage Sport Plus you have the full 520hp at your disposal along with the exhaust having its flaps fully open, so not only are you covering ground at an increasingly rapid pace but you’re being aurally assaulted at the same time. Like many other modern M cars it’s not a desperately cultured sound if you compare it to a naturally aspirated multi-valve straight-six from ‘the olden days’ but of its type this Remus system has to be one of the best we’ve experienced. It sounds angry – very similar to the AC Schnitzer ACL2 we drove a couple of months ago and it does seem to egg you on to extract the full performance from the car.

    I can’t imagine wanting to travel any faster than this on British B roads, even ones that are as wellsurfaced and well-sighted as these ones, but you find you can’t help yourself… you keep trying that little bit more, just a bit more throttle, just to hear an even more vocal and strident symphony from the exhaust. It’s a bit of a licence loser, but what a way to go! Even though these roads are better than most the odd bump can knock the M4 off line and eventually we call a halt to proceedings while we’re all still in one piece. On a dark and damp winter’s evening you could get yourself into an awful lot of trouble with this car, but if you have a modicum of self restraint and are happy to notch the pace back a little then you’d still be able to cover ground at an indecent pace while (colour aside) slipping under the radar.

    We run the M4 back to Motech’s Northampton HQ and as we’ve had our fun on the back roads we elect to cruise back and in its normal mode loping along at the legal limit the car’s perfectly refined. The exhaust is quiet, there’s no hyperactive throttle response – even the ride’s pretty decent on those bigger rims and lowering springs. It’s nigh on the perfect all-rounder – fast and shouty when you want it to be, calm and relaxing when you’re not in the mood.

    So, ultimately, while you don’t have to have be a grizzly and spec your M3 or M4 in a lairy BMW Individual colour, opting to fit Motech’s M520 package will certainly help you sound like one. We’ve tested plenty of M3s and M4s now and reckon this one’s right up there with the best as far as aural stimulation is concerned and with the performance upgrade it’s got the bite to match its bark.

    Driven at moderate speeds it’s as refined and cultured as you could want it to be.

    Contact: Motech Performance
    Tel: 01604 810000/07842 122467

    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-M520 / #BMW-M4-M520-F82 / #BMW-M4-M520-F82

    ENGINE: In-line six-cylinder, turbocharged, 24-valve
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 522hp
    MAX TORQUE: 472lb ft


    M520 PACKAGE: #Pipercross free-flow filters; #Remus downpipe back exhaust system with 102mm carbon tips with race centre section; Remus Powerizer. Package price inc. fitting (with chrome tailpipes): £2898.00
    STYLING: CarbonSpeed three-part front spoiler extensions and splitter: £540.95; CarbonSpeed full rear diffuser: £660.95; CarbonSpeed ducktail rear boot spoiler: £276.95
    WHEELS AND TYRES: #DForged D1 9.5x20-inch (front), 10.5x20-inch (rear); Toyo Proxes
    CHASSIS: Ultra Racing rear lower strut brace: £189.95; Eibach 20mm spring kit: £245.00

    Thanks to:
    Motech Performance: 01604 810000
    The Performance Company: 01933 685840
    Pipercross Air Filters: 01604 707750
    Colour Kraft: 07881 536 186
    Dooka Detailing: 07754 733778
    RS Repairs: 07904 07816
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