- Post is under moderationTOM WRIGLEY’S #BMW-M3-Competition-Pack-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80-Competition-Package / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80
I started my last ‘Our Cars’ entry back in the Summer issue apologising for missing a few months’-worth of updates, and here I am writing this this month having done exactly the same thing. Even the excuse is the same – I’ve just been so busy with work at the karting centre and with my racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with team MSS Kits that I’ve just not had time to put fingers to keyboard. Nor have I done much to the M3 either, but I do have a reason for that. You see, I’ve decided I’ve had my time with the #BMW-M3-DCT-F80 M3 Competition Pack and I fancy something different.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time driving and modifying her, and she definitely ranks as one of my favourite cars I’ve owned, but it’s time for a change. But don’t worry, I’m not straying from my beloved BMW. I thought to myself, what could possibly be better than an F80 M3? Well I guess, logically, the answer is an F90 M5! I’ve been a bit obsessed with the latest M5 since seeing and reading the reviews a little while back, and while some people weren’t sure about the M5 losing one of its USPs at first, personally I liked the idea of that clever four-wheel-drive system, and of course its 600hp and 553lb ft V8 engine too. So, it’s time to say goodbye to the M3. As so often happens (I’ve read enough PBMW features to know I’m not alone in having done this!), I’d gotten her right where I wanted her and then… decided to sell. I know, I know, but you know what it’s like when you get the taste of a new car. Anyway, before I wave her off to pastures new I thought I’d run down the final spec how she stands now.
The highlight of the whole build for me was definitely the #Tom-Wrigley-Performance #AP-Radi-CAL II 390mm six-pot and 380mm four-pot front and rear brakes I developed. They absolutely transformed the way the car stopped on the road and on the track, giving such a nicer pedal feel and, on track, being much less prone to fade. I liked the way the M Performance carbon exterior pack and the CS front splitter looked on the outside, just as much, in fact, as I liked the M Performance carbon and Alcantara interior pack, the trick LED wheel, the amazing sounding and performance-boosting exhaust and, in my eyes anyway, the awesome looking #763M-wheels . In fact, I liked pretty much everything about this car it’s got to be said. Under the bonnet I fitted the three-piece CSF cooling kit, which did definitely make a difference in keeping things cool on track, the stunning looking (and sounding!) Arma Speed carbon intake and of course the Evolve Automotive cat-less downpipes. Finally, and probably the thing that made the most difference performance-wise, I had Evolve install one of its Stage 2 maps, with pop and crackle overrun for the giggles. In fact I liked the noises it made so much that the fact Evolve’s brilliant map really made a noticeable difference to the car’s responsiveness and overall drivability and added an extra 60-70hp and 70-80lb ft torque too was almost a bit of a bonus!
I also want to take this opportunity to thank #Evolve-Motorsport , CSF and #Arma-Speed for working with me on the car and I look forward to fitting some of their brilliant products to my cars in the future. You know a product is good when you’re already thinking of going down the same route with your next car! So anyway, that’s that, that’s how the M3 looked. I’ll definitely miss it, it was brilliant in standard form but even better modified just a little. Where’s the fun in leaving a car standard after all? And I know what you’re all thinking, what’s going to happen to the M5 when it comes? Well, to be honest, I’m not sure. All I can say is I’ll see how it goes…
It’s the end of the road for Tom’s #BMW-M3-F80 . Three-piece #CSF-cooling-kit made a big difference M3 looked fantastic on the 763M wheels. Sexy interior carbon pack. #BBK the best mod Tom did.
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- Post is under moderationFinely Honed #BMW
The M3 is a hugely accomplished machine straight out-of-the-box, but with the full Schnitzer treatment it’s an even sharper instrument Words and photography: Steve Hall.
We take a trip to Germany to see what a set of AC Schnitzer upgrades can do for the M3.
Wheelspin… let’s try third. There’s the boost… and there’s the wheelspin. Okay, how about fourth gear? A flicker from the traction control, the looser MDM mode allowing a moderate amount of traction loss. Yep, probably not the ideal conditions to test the performance envelope of a rear-wheel drive saloon sporting 70lb ft of torque and 60hp more than the already punchy standard M3. It seems churlish to reference traction issues given the rain has been falling in a deluge for the last hour leaving the roads glistening with a sheen of water that even German drainage is struggling to cope with. With no let-up in sight, my run of luck (after four days of German autumnal sunshine) has come to an end; there will be no photoshoot today…
Fast-forward one week, and we’re greeted with a late October day basking in sunshine. Chilly it may be but the roads are bone dry, perfect for those turbos to gulp down cool air and operate at maximum efficiency. You’d think they already were – particularly in 450hp Competition pack form – but no, with the ACS3 Sport, Schnitzer has managed to squeeze 510hp out of the M3’s lusty #S55B30 in-line ‘six, backed by a solid wall of torque, peaking at 475lb ft.
Given that we’ve found the standard M3 hardly lacking in the area of straight line performance, adding 20 percent more power and 17 percent more torque has a suitably eye-opening effect on the level of performance on offer, and explains the M3’s difficulty in getting that performance onto the ground the previous week. Hardly an M3 strong point, wet traction is something that either occupies the traction control system or demands a lot of your attention, depending which setting you’ve deployed in the stability control system. Either way, you’re glad of the M3’s natural chassis balance.
To be fair, it comes as no surprise that a 475lb ft rear-wheel drive saloon struggles to put its power down in sodden conditions, particularly when you look at the torque curve – maximum torque arrives before even 2000rpm has registered on the tachometer. The ramp up in torque so low down in the rev range can have the rear wheels over-rotating before you can say sideways, requiring swift and accurate corrective lock, but with time you learn to measure your throttle inputs and start to enjoy the ACS3’s exuberance. You always need your wits about you in the wet as a small amount of lateral load (such as when joining a motorway) can set the tail wagging in even fourth gear, but generally speaking the task of managing the Schnitzer M3’s rampant torque delivery is an entertaining challenge.
Naturally things are much calmer on the dry roads of today’s photoshoot. There’s more than enough torque to break traction in second (and third over undulations) but we’re able to delve deep into the ACS3’s power band and really give it its head. There’s a stretch of autobahn between the Schnitzer factory in the east of Aachen, Germany and our photoshoot location to the south which allows several kilometres of derestricted running, and despite the smattering of traffic there are a few opportunities to really let rip through the intermediate gears. So we find ourselves cruising at the posted 120km/h limit, waiting for the fabled white circle with the diagonal triple black stripe to appear, shifting down into third as we approach, then bury the throttle as we enter the zone. Third, fourth and fifth gears are swiftly dispatched, the sixth ratio quickly taking us deep into an indicated 250km/h+ (155mph) before traffic ahead brings speeds back to normal. We repeat the exercise a few more times – all in the name of science, you understand – and find the M3’s ability to leap from 130km/h (81mph) up to serious territory north of 250km/h deeply impressive. This is major league performance, and feels way beyond the standard M3 in its ability to shrug off weight and aerodynamic drag to pile on speed. Repeating the exercise in fourth and fifth gears underline the torque-rich nature of the S55B30’s mid-range, the motor pulling hard from 3000rpm, making short work of the sprint back up to 250km/h. There’s plenty of reward to be had from letting the engine rev right out to its 7600rpm redline, too; just as with the standard M3/4 the Schnitzer-massaged S55B30 has a freerevving nature and energetic top end delivery which belies its forced induction, accompanied by a sonorous howl from the Schnitzer exhaust.
Which brings us neatly to one of the star facets of this car; it sounds ripsnortingly good. The M3 (and M4) are hardly a pair of shrinking violets but the addition of the Schnitzer rear silencers introduces an extra level of volume from the rear which sounds suitably menacing at idle (particularly on start up), with a deep, powerful, sporting timbre through the mid-range. As one of the prime senses excited whilst driving a performance car, the added aural signature of the ACS3 is an important and integral part of the package. The silencers incorporate flap control, so startup soon calms down to sociable volume levels whilst adding a pleasing visual flourish.
It will not have escaped your attention that adding visual flourish is very much part of the Schnitzer remit for the ACS3 Sport. Ticking the box marked ‘San Marino blue-metallic’ is always going to be an excellent starting point – this colour looks sensational in direct sunlight – and we applaud the decision to opt for the four-door M3 over the perhaps more obvious M4 Coupé as the ACS3 Sport demonstrator. There’s something terrifically butch and aggressive about the pumped up M3 shape, particularly from the rear three quarters.
Schnitzer has fitted its familiar, gorgeous, fivespoke AC1 Lightweight forged alloys wrapped in 265/30/R20 (front) and 285/30/R20 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sports. They hunker into the arches of the 30mm lower ACS3 Sport, and alongside the myriad carbon exterior elements – front splitter and side wings primary among them – combine to create a cohesive and imposing aesthetic signature. The flourishes continue inside in the usual Schnitzer fashion, so footrest and pedals are replaced with aluminium items whilst handbrake handle, mats and key holder are Schnitzer items. With photography duties just about finished it’s time to head back to the factory, taking in a few twisties along the way. It’s here that the AC Schnitzer RS adjustable suspension comes to the fore, demonstrating an impressive ability to round off the worst the road surface can throw at it without introducing the crashiness sometimes associated with lowering a car and reducing suspension travel.
Naturally the setup is very firm, but this affords superb body control, the ACS3 Sport changing direction sharply with little discernible body roll. The ACS3 feels taught, controlled and keyed into the road surface with none of the vertical bobbing the M3 occasionally elicits over long amplitude bumps. As a passive system for a road-based car, we’d say Schnitzer has nailed its setup, delivering the level of control we look for in a tuned car of this power without overstepping the mark and making it too harsh for road use.
On the autobahn, at the very high speeds the ACS3 is so easily capable of, stability is just as supreme as you’d expect; you could drive with one hand at 150mph should you so desire (naturally, we don’t recommend this!). Of course, we’re pretty much in one of the ACS3’s natural habitats here on the autobahn, but it’s another demonstration of how thoroughly the package has been developed. Indeed, this is part and parcel of buying a car such as the ACS3 Sport. With a company as well known and respected as Schnitzer, you know the car has been subject to a fulsome testing programme before it was ready to launch.
Consequently, others in the M3/4 tuning world may have got to market sooner, and some may offer higher power outputs, but with the ACS3 you’re paying for the thoroughness and the confidence that comes with that. A confidence reflected in the two-year warranty Schnitzer supplies as part of all its upgrades. With the tuning box approach (whereby the new ECU effectively piggy-backs onto the existing one) it’s even possible to return your car to factory standard settings should you so desire. And, of course, that thoroughness of engineering is reflected in every element of the driving experience. We love the M3/4 family as it leaves Munich’s hallowed halls, but a visit to Aachen moves the M3 onto another level: sharper, faster, visually imposing and replete with an aural signature to make you smile.
TECHNICAL DATA #2017 #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-F80 / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW #M3-based #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-M3 / #AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-M3-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M3-AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #ACS3-Sport
ENGINE: Twin-turbo, straight-six
MAX POWER: 510hp
MAX TORQUE: 476lb ft
0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
50-120MPH: 6.2 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
DIMENSIONS: (length/width/height in mm): 4671/1870/1383
WEIGHT/MATERIAL: 1572kg/steel aluminum and composites
ENGINE: #AC-Schnitzer-performance-upgrade and exhaust system with valve control and Sport Black tailpipe trims / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #S55-AC-Schnitzer / #S55-tuning
WHEELS AND TYRES: #AC-Schnitzer-AC1 lightweight forged in BiColour finish.
Front: 9x20-inches with 265/30 R20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
Rear: 10x20-inches with 285/25 R21 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres
SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer adjustable coilover ‘Racing’ package, lowered 30mm at the front and 40mm at the rear
STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler elements, rear diffuser, upper rear spoiler, Racing front splitter, side wings, carbon rear spoiler, carbon fibre wing mirror covers
INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set and footrest, handbrake handle, key holder and floor mats
CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK
Tel: 01485 542000
AC Schnitzer (Germany)
Tel: +49 (0) 241 5688130
Visual flourish is very much part of the Schnitzer remit for the ACS3 Sport.
The added aural signature of the ACS3 is an important and integral part of the package.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDouble Dare
Owning one street-and track-tuned M3 would be enough for most people. But not Chad Bates – he’s upped the ante with a matching pair. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.
Fierce E92 M3 and F80 M3 tear up the Tarmac / Stunning twin M3s
The two cars you’re looking at here – the E92 M3, and the F80 M3 – may be just a single generation apart, but they couldn’t be more different. The E92 features a thudding Goliath of an engine, a brutal, highrevving V8 with a soundtrack that can strip paint off cheap houses. It is (relatively speaking) an old-skool bruiser.
The F80, conversely, is a smart representation of modern technological advances; a focus on combining performance with efficiency – plus the everpresent emissions Sword of Damocles – has seen to it that the motor is now a twin-turbo straight-six. Furthermore, this generation finally broke the M3 chain, hitherto being a badge glued to the two- and four-door variants: whereas the E92 M3 we have here is a coupé, the F80 is a four-door saloon. If you want a two-door coupé version of the F80, you will find yourself with an M4. Which is actually an F82. Such is progress, such is life.
They are, of course, tied by an indelible bond, each an exciting chapter in the ongoing M3 saga, and their owner, Chad Bates, has artfully augmented these ties with tasteful upgrades to further accentuate their kinship: they both wear BBS wheels, they both roll on KW suspension, they’re both painted in subtle shades of grey. This measured approach is the result of a lifetime of modifying for Chad – although he admits that BMWs are, in the grand scheme of things, reasonably new territory for him.
“I bought my first car, a 1984 Jeep Cherokee, at the age of 16,” he explains. “Ever since that point I have embarked upon making a personal statement with my cars.
The Cherokee got stripped down and repainted, and received one of the most insane sound systems that money could buy. It was a fun little first car that got me around during my high school years! My second car was a heavily modified 1992 Honda Accord, which I kept for a couple of years before purchasing an Acura Integra GS-R – that, again, was heavily modified, although it got stolen and vandalised in 2002, and that left a horrible taste in my mouth.”
Disheartened by this turn of events, Chad just didn’t feel his place in the modifying scene any more, so he pulled the ’chute and drifted out of it. Fast-forward to 2008 and he’d become a family man, so he acquired his first BMW – a shiny new 550i – to ferry the kids around in. It was wellequipped and had a bit of get-up-and-go, but he never felt any desire to modify it. But then, in 2011, the lease expired and Chad found himself yearning for something more… offbeat. And that’s when a voice in his brain reminded him what sparked the interest in Bavarian machinery in the first place. “My initial interest in BMWs began in 1996, when a friend of mine bought an E36 M3 and began modifying it,” he reminisces.
“At that time, there weren’t a lot of young people from my hometown who could afford that type of vehicle, let alone modify them. So the car quickly became a local legend.” Chad felt that it was the right time to grab a handful of that stardust for himself, so he did the decent thing and ordered himself a brand-new E92 M3.
“It started as a Jerez black 2012 E92 that I E92 M3 planned to keep pretty much stock, but thanks to magazines, forums and friends, that desire to keep it stock quickly passed,” he laughs. “I began modifying just about everything that could be touched on the car, and spent quite a bit of time on the track. After about three years owning the car, however, it was beginning to show signs of wear from all the track abuse, and I decided to make a pretty dramatic change. So I stripped it down in my home garage…”
Yep, you read that right. No mucking about here, it’s all hands-on. In fact, Chad’s proud to explain that he’s carried out as many of the mods as he was physically able to on both cars. But we’ll get to the F80 in due course. First, we have a stripped down E92 to deal with: “All the body panels were removed and the entire interior was gutted,” he continues. “I shipped the shell to the guys at Strassesport in Irwindale, CA, where they painted it in Audi Nardo grey – something I hadn’t seen on a BMW before. Once the paint was finished the guys allowed me to work in their shop putting the entire car back together with my own hands.”
The finished product, as you can see, is pretty meaty: staggered BBS E88s, copious carbon fibre touches, Recaro Sportster CS seats – and the rear bumper’s pretty jazzy too. Built up by Strassesport, it has aftermarket diffusers and flares smoothed right in, appearing like an OEM factory piece to all but those who know what they’re looking at. Classy, huh?
After a year, however, Chad got itchy feet. He was loving the street racer thrills of the E92, but he wanted to add to his collection. Something unusual, something different. And the answer came in the form of, er, another grey M3.
“A unique 2015 F80 M3 came up for sale,” he grins. “It had been ordered from BMW Individual and no expense was spared. It was the first of its kind to be painted in Fashion grey; a colour borrowed from Porsche. The interior was trimmed in contrasting Fjord blue and Silverstone leather. It was probably the most expensive M3 built at the time, with just about every option – and of course all the extra individual costs associated with the paint and interior. I knew that if I was going to purchase the new F8x model, the car had to be something special, and I knew that this car would fit the bill.” And, naturally, with those old modifying urges now firmly in overdrive, this was never going to be a case of simply finding a wellspec’d car and keeping it standard. Just like with that schoolboy Cherokee, Chad needed to make his personal statement.
Like the E92, the engine’s had its management breathed upon, while the exhaust has been replaced with something that allows the brutal motor to bark with more ferocity. KW coilovers offer a neat balance between track prowess and streetable durability, and a handful of carbon-fibre exterior mods really set off that Fashion Grey hue in style.
“Both of these cars were purchased to be promotional tools for my business, MotorRennGruppe, a manufacturer of titanium wheel hardware,” he explains, and that’s the logic informing the look-at-me wheels on both cars. The E92 wears 18” BBS E88s in staggered widths, while the F80 has a set of genuinely mighty custom-built BBS LMs, the rears measuring an eye-watering and arch-busting 12x20”. Just check out those Michelins, they’re a 305-section at the rear. That’s supercar wide!
“For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups that push the limits of the stock arches without making the cars look out of place or hacked up,” says Chad. “The E92’s E88s were rebuilt with new inner and outer barrels to widen the fronts to 10” and the rears to 11.5”, with offsets that brought the faces of the wheel nearly even with the arch lips. Then I knew I had to do something special with the F80, so I had a set of stock BBS LMs rebuilt to 10” and 12” widths. To my knowledge, this was the first set of 20” LMs done for the F80 M3.”
What particularly strikes us about Chad when he’s describing his modifying journey with this grey duo is that it’s all very considered and thoughtful; he’s not the type to rush in and overdo things. Perhaps it’s the background of getting his hands dirty and doing everything himself, but there’s not an iota of effort wasted here.
Take the engine tuning, for example. It’s easy to go a bit mad with M3s, but it’s good to remember that they’re pretty formidable in stock form, and sometimes less is more. “Both cars maintain stock engine internals, and were treated with tunes and bolt-on accessories,” he points out. “The E92 has a Stage II tune from BPM Sport, while the F80 has the E-Flash Tuner from ESS. Both cars have uprated intake systems from Macht Schnell and Maximum PSI, and the F80 has BMS charge pipes bolted up to the stock turbos. The ESS tune on the F80 bumps up the power considerably over stock with race fuel, and is extremely capable on the track – although I prefer driving the E92 over the F80 for the raw sound of the V8!”
Ah, the agony of choice, eh? But despite the obvious similarities between Chad’s two M3s, there’s a clear ideological split: the E92 has been built to be sporty and trackfriendly, while the swankier F80 is the luxurious daily driver that just happens to have Continent-crushing GT potential as well as track-slaying physical drama. Between them, they tick a lot of boxes.
So where does he go from here? “Well, I’d like a Porsche GT3 next,” he tells us. Yeah, he says that… but with two entirely different M3s to choose from – one modern, sensible and cosseting, the other an old-skool badboy track monster – we suspect he’s going to have his hands pretty full for a while.
“The F80 is capable on the track, but I prefer the E92 for the raw sound of the V8!”
“The car had to be something special… I knew this would fit the bill”
“For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E92 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Macht-Schnell-Stage-2 intake, #BPM-Sport-Stage-2 tune, #Megan-Racing exhaust system, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #BBS-E88 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot SuperSport tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers, #StopTech Trophy big brake kit with six-piston callipers and 380x35mm discs (front) and four-piston callipers with 355x35mm discs (rear).
EXTERIOR Audi Nardo grey paint, OEM Euro-spec front bumper, iND grilles, bonnet vents and side gills, Mode Carbon GTS V1 carbon fibre front lip and side skirts, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps (painted Nardo grey), custom-moulded BMW M Performance spoiler, custom-moulded rear bumper with integrated diffuser.
INTERIOR Recaro Sportster CS seats, BMW Performance steering wheel, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate and paddle shifters.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 , #ESS flash tune, #Eisenmann valved exhaust system, #BMS charge pipes, #Maximum-PSI charge intakes, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) custombuilt #BBS-LM wheels with 245/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW-HAS coilovers, M carbonceramic brakes, #MRG titanium stud conversion.
EXTERIOR Individual Fashion grey paint, Mode Carbon carbon-fibre Trophy S1 front lip, rear diffuser and M4-style rear spoiler, iND cosmetic package, modified M4 #BMW-M-Performance side skirts.
INTERIOR Individual Fjord blue and Silverstone extended leather interior with contrasting stitching, BMW M Performance steering wheel, factory carbon fibre interior trim, head-up display, Mode Carbon carbon fibre seat-back replacements (front and rear), P3 Cars digital boost gauge, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate, and paddle shifters.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationDRINKING THE KOOL-AID 530hp #Sakhir-orange F80 M3
It’s easy to go with the flow, isn’t it? Wheels, suspension, then hit the show scene. But for Sam Herz, it’s not quite that simple. He deliberately chose a controversial colour for his new M3 and everything just spiralled from there… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.
F80 M3 530hp Sakhir orange Saloon
Deep in the deserts of western Bahrain lies the Al-Sakhir Palace – a bold and imposing white colossus, brimming with Frenchinspired bastiles, faux-medieval crenellations, and more pillars than you can shake a gold bar at. Built in the late nineteenth century, it’s a place of serenity; it lay abandoned for decades after Sheikh Hamad died in 1942, and even since its renovation in the mid-1990s it’s remained a place of peaceful retreat…
…Well, until 2004, that is. That’s the year the Bahrain International Circuit opened just down the road, and ever since there’s been a perennial soundtrack of redlining race motors accompanied by the ever-present whiff of race fuel. What price tradition, eh?
And it’s after this effervescent turn of events that BMW has named one of the more vibrant colours on its palette in recent years: Sakhir orange. This, basically, is a colour for people who don’t muck about.
The unimaginative masses may choose to spec their new cars in Resale red or Inoffensive silver, but there’s a hardcore of BMW fans who live for today, who couldn’t give a monkeys about residuals, who want their new purchase to be as in-your-face as it can be while still holding (perhaps tenuously) on to its warranty. Sam Herz is one such person. Just check out his outrageous F80 M3: it’s so hashtag just-ain’t care, it’s Sakhir orange on the outside and the inside.
“It was a surprisingly difficult car to source in this colour scheme,” Sam laughs. We don’t doubt it – the ratio of serious enthusiasts to plastic posers who buy M3s is a figure the firm is naturally unable to provide, but we’re sure the former group is probably smaller, their whims taking the dealers somewhat by surprise sometimes. So let’s rewind to where all this began for Sam. It started, as you might imagine, with another BMW. “It really all stemmed from a poster of an E46 M3 that a friend gave me in high school,” he recalls, squinting slightly as he peers through a rose-tinted fug of ethereal mist. “I kept that picture on my wall throughout college as sort of a motivation – and, eventually, I got one!”
You can insert your cliché about living out the American dream here, although the truth was that it was a bit of stretch; being a college student with an M3 meant that he naturally didn’t have a whole bunch of cash for modifications. But time marches inexorably onward, situations change as lifestyles evolve and nowadays the act of fettling hot BMWs offers Sam a rather soothing break from the go-go everyday of working in software, doing something we don’t totally understand with ones and zeroes. We think he might captain one of those ships in The Matrix. Whatever it is he does, he’s a smart cookie. That’s all you need to really know.
“I have bad enough luck that I generally leave the big jobs to the shop,” Sam shrugs, “but I am looking forward to doing a little more of my own wrenching now that I have a garage.” Ah, splendid, he is human after all. Excellent. An excitable meatbag of aspiration, trepidation and enthusiasm, just like the rest of us. So, why an F80 M3, how did that all come about?
“Well, as my E46 became more track focused, I needed a daily driver outside of my motorcycles,” Sam explains. “Previously I’d bought Performance Technic’s Dinanequipped 550i shop car – which gave me my first taste of the Dinan Kool-Aid! However, it was always kind of big and a bit ungainly. So I started looking for a slightly smaller, sportier sedan, preferably with a manual transmission, since I’d finally taught myself how to drive stick at the ripe age of 28. And after looking at basically everything in the segment, I landed on the F80. I’ve always liked the combination of the sporty and the practical that you get with the M3, and I find the new body quite striking. Also, after seeing Sakhir orange on an M5 I really, really wanted a car available in that colour!”
This time around, Sam elected to purchase the car brand-new from a dealer, although his detailed and specific demands meant that this was very far from a case of merely ambling into a showroom, pointing at one of the cars and saying ‘yeah, that one please. Don’t wrap it, I’ll drive it home’. Not only did Sam insist on puzzling and slightly troubling the salesman by demanding an F80 that was both metallic Sakhir on the outside and stuffed with sumptuous Sakhir leather within, but he wanted Euro delivery, too. And if you don’t know what that is, here’s the principle in a nutshell: BMW USA offer a programme whereby customers get to meet their new car at the place it was built. Having flown themselves to Germany, they head over to BMW Welt where they’re put up in a swanky hotel, given a full factory tour, offered a variety of official ‘Driving Adventure’ packages, and then given the keys to their new motor and pointed toward the autobahn. When they’ve had their fill of mischief, BMW ship the car to the States to meet the new owner back at home. Brilliant idea, isn’t it?
“When I first sat in the car at BMW Welt, it had less than a mile on the clock,” Sam beams. “I’d managed to swing things so that I could immediately take it on a grand tour of Europe, arriving at the Nürburgring with just 1203 miles racked up – just in time for that first oil change! Then there was a track day at Spa-Francorchamps a few days later, along with check-ins at both Audi factories, Ferrari, Pagani, you name it – I definitely put in the world’s slowest baby laps of every circuit but the car came home in one piece!”
It’s an impressive tale of automotive swashbuckling but, of course, this has to be far more than a story of a man buying a new car and then driving it around. This isn’t that sort of magazine. Inevitably, Sam had plans to awesomify the F80 a little, both aesthetically and mechanically. “Actually, I didn’t at first,” he admits. “I sort of wanted to keep it stock-ish but then US customs somehow lost the car for about a month, and you know how it goes… I started getting ideas!”
Having dipped his toe into the fragrant waters of Dinan with his old 550i, Sam was keen to replicate the engineering ethos of that car: proper, quality upgrades, geared as much for reliability as performance. If you do things cheap, you do them twice, and that’s not Sam’s way. This is why you’ll spot pretty much the entire Dinan catalogue in the spec list – the Dinantronics Performance Tuner Stage 2 hardware and software package combines with the firm’s carbon-fibre intake and an Akrapovič Evolution exhaust system to churn out a mighty 530hp. “I’ll be upgrading to Stage 3 soon, and adding a Dinan heat exchanger, too, at which point it’ll be closer to 550hp,” he explains casually. Man, he really did get into that Kool-Aid.
“I fitted a lot of the genuine M Performance options, too, as I’ve been burned by the bad fitment of inferior parts a few too many times,” Sam continues. “And I also fitted a full self-healing clear bra so that I can actually drive the thing.” You know what he means here: optioning Sakhir orange is a brassy move, so you don’t want to then have the thing covered in stonechips and baked-on kamikaze insects. This outrageous paint job is the car’s key hook, and it’s for keeps.
“The wheels were actually the hardest decision of the build,” Sam ponders, gazing fondly at them as if mentally validating his choice for the umpteenth time. “I was originally thinking of BBS LMs but they really don’t fit the lines of the F80. The HRE P40SC was in the running but it’s copied too often. But when IND Distribution showed off the first set of BBS FI-Rs, I knew that was the one!” The forthrightness of the rolling stock perfectly complements the bullish chassis, too. M3s are brutal in stock form but Sam’s sports Dinan coilovers, control arms and anti-roll bars, along with BMW’s own astonishing carbon-ceramic brake upgrade take it to the next level. Bit of a track warrior now, then? Something to show his E46 a thing or two? “Nah, it’s the daily,” Sam smiles. “This is California, so that means commuting to work and back; I just drove it to Seattle to see my parents. I took it to the last IMSA race at Laguna Seca. I even used it to carry all my stuff when I moved house. It’s a great car. I take it everywhere. And I often get thumbs-ups from other drivers and people coming over to talk about it at gas stations – I think it’s the orange…”
Yep, we’d say that was a pretty safe bet. There’s opulence and motorsport intent woven deep in that Sakhir DNA, and a car with that paint is noteworthy enough. But with the care and attention Sam’s expended choosing its upgrades, and his relentless eagerness to use it as the M division intended, that’s actually about as far from drinking the Kool-Aid as it’s possible to get.
“The wheels were actually the hardest part of the build”
Stunning 19” #BBS FI-R wheels suit the M3 so well; below, various carbon fibre exterior additions.
“The engine has been upgraded with a Dinan carbon-fibre intake and #Dinantronics Stage 2 software, which take power up to a mighty 530hp”
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #2016 / #BBS-FI / #BBS / #BMW-M3-Dinan / #BMW-M3-Dinan-F80 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straightsix #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 /, Dinantronics Stage 2 hard/software, #Dinan carbon-fibre intake, #Akrapovič-Evolution catback exhaust system, approx. 530hp, six-speed manual transmission
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (f) and 10.5x19” (r) #BBS-FI-R wheels in platinum silver, 275/30 (f) and 295/30 (r) Yokohama Advan AD08R tyres, Dinan coilovers, antiroll bars and rear control arms, #BMW-M carbon ceramic brakes with sixpiston calipers and 414mm discs (f) and four-piston calipers and 380mm discs (r)
EXTERIOR Sakhir orange metallic, Suntek clear bra (including roof and carbon-fibre trim), M Performance carbon fibre accessories
INTERIOR Full Sakhir orange leather, #BMW-M-Performance steering wheel, M Performance gear knob, M Performance handbrake, super-cool floor mats
THANKS Dinan Engineering, Jim Bustos at MMI Vehicle Systems, Brionne Go of Go Wraps, Chuck Thomas, Nick Owen and Brandon Watson at BMW of El Cajon, RC LevellStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationWhat better way to sample the Nürburgring than from the passenger seat of an F80 M3 ‘Ring Taxi’?
/ #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #Ring-Taxi / #BMW-M3-Ring-Taxi / #BMW-M3-Ring-Taxi-F80 / #BMW / #2016
Theatre of Dreams (and Nightmares)
Fancy experiencing the magic of the Nürburgring Nordschleife but don’t want to risk your own car? You’ll be wanting a passenger lap in the Ring Taxi then… Words: Robb Pritchard Photography: Robb Pritchard/racetracker.de
I often cast disparaging stares at people in supercars stuck in traffic where all they can do in a 500bhp car is a quick stab of the gas before they’re at speed limit. It’s the same for motorway cruising. Pretty much any car does 70mph so although the seats may be more comfy and the ride more refined it’s still absolutely nowhere near the car’s potential. It’s like owning a racehorse but keeping it in the cattle shed. There is, however, a place you can legally explore the higher capabilities of your BMW M Series: the incredible Nürburgring Nordschleife.
A 21km long circuit just couldn’t be built today but in the 1920s German engineers decided to build the ultimate race and test track and with a different number of turns (depending on how you count it). There is simply nothing like it in the world. Forget Le Mans, Spa, Bathurst, Monaco… the Nordschleife is, and has always been, the ultimate test of man and machine. But such is its complexity there’s no way you can just turn up and drive flat-out around it. I’ve met people who say that even 100 laps isn’t enough to learn every braking point and apex. Also, not all of us own a brand-new M3… this is where the Ring Taxi comes in. Like many great ideas, the concept is very simple. You pay for ten minutes in the passenger seat and have your mind blown by a driver you can never hope to be as good as in a car you had no real understanding could perform so well.
A few kilometres from the circuit is the Parc Ferme hotel with about 20 cars lined-up in the drizzle like the forecourt of a sports car dealership. The Golfs and Clios didn’t do anything for me and the half-dozen 118s are not what I came for. It was the gorgeous M3, its aggressive lines accentuated by the two-tone blue and red stripes that hark back to the glory days of the 3.0 CSL, that I headed for.
Dale Lomas is the friendly driver whose day job is driving around the Nordschleife and it felt strange to be at a race track clicking in the normal seatbelt rather than buckling-up in a five-point harness. There were no helmets either, so I assumed we weren’t going to be pushing too hard. I was a little disappointed… for about two seconds, until after we’d passed the last of the safety cones and were on the hallowed asphalt. An Impreza and a couple of Porsches, presumably also with pedals to the floor on the second part of the Döttinger Höhe straight, didn’t even warrant a mention as we blew past them. There was a bit of wheelspin on the damp tarmac on the change up to third as we took the slight left. The engine revs raced but the sound was subdued as not only is this a road car, it’s completely unchanged since it left the factory.
The first couple of chicane kinks happened a bit too fast to properly register but then I remembered to take a breath. It was at the first turn that my conscious brain finally caught up with the animal instinct signals. I was so close to the barrier on my side that I flinched; we slid around with oversteer, the back wheel touching the outside curb. This was no ordinary tourist drive around in a nice car; this was a demonstration of exactly what this M3 is capable of. We went over the blind crest so hard on the brakes that I needed to brace myself with my feet. The tyres squealed as we drifted around the apex and headed out into the dense trees.
“I used to love the E92,” Dale said, somehow able to think about things other than the next turn-in or braking point, “but this new car is really something very, very special. And it’s completely standard!” A few more corners came in quick succession. Dale might have told me names but I wasn’t really listening. I was more concerned with trying to find a way of splaying my legs that would brace me more effectively against the lateral g-forces.
Then the track opened up and we went quickly up through the paddle-shift gears. On the dozens of YouTube videos I’ve watched over the years the part of the track from the Flugplatz down to Aremberg looks like a long easy flow with just a bit of a dab of the brakes before slowing for the tight right turn – unless you come across a localised hailstorm, in which case the whole field just ploughs off, as in the recent 24-Hour race. The acceleration of the M3, though, was anything but calm; it was gloriously violent. The crest lifted me up in the seat. A nasty dip just in the braking zone almost knocked my camera out of my hand. The left turn is blind and then it’s a horribly steep and slightly turning braking zone before the corner. The little squeals from the tyres, the way the back stepped out after every apex, it felt like were on the absolute limit. But Dale was inch perfect. It’s an instinctive accuracy that only comes with years of practice. An incredible 10,000 laps, in fact.
Before I arrived I imagined seeing the places written in motorsport history here: Manfred Winkelhock’s flip over the Flugplatz in 1980; Niki Lauda’s crash in 1976; the same corners that the insane pre-war death-trap Auto Unions and Silver Arrows drifted around. But no, all my mental faculties were taken up with just how fast we were going. I heard the old axiom about motor racing being the theatre that road car technologies are forged in and the M3 is the embodiment of that. It’s an absolutely incredible car and I realised that there must be a very high percentage of M3 owners who have only the slightest inkling of what their car is actually capable of.
It was another surge of acceleration down the hill to the Foxhole where my narrative sadly ends. I made the mistake of trying to adjust my camera just as we bottomed-out. Cornering, braking and slamming down into the compression all at once pressed vital organs against my digestive system and long suppressed memories of bus rides in India came flooding back.
My lunch gave the distinct impression that it wasn’t planning on staying where it was for too much longer and suddenly I was having a ‘ring’ experience of completely the wrong type. Opening the window at such speeds wouldn’t have been too comfortable and the air-con didn’t do too much to help. On a €225 a lap test-drive on the most awesome circuit in the world we were going to have to pull over…
There’s an access road at Ex-Mühle and I only just managed to open the door in time. Dale, an absolute star, ran off to find me some water and did an excellent job of stifling his laughter. I hardly noticed him at all. I race in the Baja 1000. I got a podium in class at the King of the Hammers, the only European to do so, so I am no stranger to speed or extreme cars, so actually making me ill proves just how fast and intense a Ring Taxi lap really is. If you love fast cars you are going to love absolutely it. Unless you don’t like rollercoasters. If you don’t like rollercoasters, don’t do this!
“Does this happen often?” I asked, hoping I would feel better if Dale told me that he hardly manages a lap before someone asks him to stop. “About once or twice a year,” he replied. Nope. I didn’t feel better. With hazard lights flashing we trundled on being passed by a Volvo estate and even a Nissan Micra.
Dale chuckled. It seemed I’m not the only one having a unique experience. “In or out?” he asked about the Carousel, a rough-looking concrete wall of death on the inside of a hairpin. “In,” I said, still with the idea of writing this as though it was a serious hot lap all the way from bridge to gantry. It’s rougher than it looks.
We bashed around, leaning over at a 30-degree angle and, even going pathetically slowly, the car was still battered and my stomach churned. “You okay?” Dale asked and a few corners later my hand was on the door handle again. “This is Brunchen, the YouTube corner where everyone films. Are you sure you want to stop here?” He was concerned for my online wellbeing and potential Facebook notoriety; Dale really is a top bloke. “It’s actually quite cool going so slowly. You notice lots of details you don’t normally see,” he mused, being positive. “It’s really lovely scenery.” “You never really noticed before?” I asked. “No. I never went so slow before!”
We stopped again, not for me this time but for the Volvo that was parked at a funny angle after being in the barriers. Dale radio’d it into the marshals. Another good reason to go with Ring Taxi; you won’t need to take out a second mortgage if you bend the barriers! “Driving a car fast on the Nordschleife is like boxing,” Dale said as we finally made it back onto the main straight. You can watch as many videos as you like but if you get in the ring with a professional thinking that you are good, you’re going to get your face broken. It’s the same here. Nothing you can do on a normal road or even another race circuit can prepare you for the Nordschleife. If you think you can drive fast on your first few laps you will have an accident.”
Driving high performance road cars around the Nürburgring is cool but it’s racing that this track is famous for. Dale drove in the recent 24-Hour race, in the dark, in the rain, lights all around, tyres going off, different conditions on each lap. Yes, a Ring Taxi ride with a guy who can cope with all of that is definitely worth €225.
Memories to keep
You will, no doubt, want to keep such memories for prosperity and for this there are a few guys around the track shooting you in the passenger seat with wide eyes and a big smile. For around £7 a photo it’s a bargain – contact www.racetraker.de.
CONTACT: Ring Taxi / Web: www.ringtaxi.deStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationAmerican F80 M3 in Individual Avus blue with lush custom interior packs a 560whp punch.
KILLER INSTINCT 560whp Avus
With ferocious looks, a stunning colour scheme, an opulent custom interior, and massive power, this awesome M3 is not a machine to be trifled with. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
M3 or M4? We wager most of you will be in ‘camp coupé’, the two-door’s sleek lines proving irresistibly seductive, with every design element focused on making it look as low and wide as possible, with more than a little success.
But don’t write-off the M3; it’s no ugly duckling and the narrower body but identical track mean that it boasts swollen arches that are hidden in the M4’s wide bodywork, giving it a pumped-up look that makes other saloons cower in fear. And there’s something cool about ultra-powerful four-door saloons that surprise the unsuspecting with the sort of firepower they only expect from a coupé. Of course, it’s a lot less of a surprise these days as the ‘cult of the super saloon’ is now less of a cult and more a family-friendly club where everyone knows your name. However, the enduring appeal of the saloon, as sparked by legends such as the Lotus Carlton, Brabus EV12 and, of course, BMW’s own M5, remains. Just ask Shaun Fulton, because this is his F80 M3 and it’s awesome…
Although Shaun grew up around Volvos, the reliable Swedish marque being his dad’s choice of wheels, the sole reason he’s not currently hauling Labradors around in a rapid wagon is down to his dad’s mechanic friend. “He was a Master Tech at BMW for over 30 years,” Shaun explains. “He would help fix our Volvos on the weekends. Every time I would see my father’s friend, he would be in the latest BMW and I fell in love with the brand at an early age.”
With BMWs on the brain it’s no surprise that, after graduating and landing his first job as a stock broker, his thoughts turned to splashing out on an M3. “My senior broker kept talking about getting a new E92 M3 with his annual bonus cheque. Aspiring to be like him, I set my eyes on that same goal,” Shaun explains. In 2011 he bought himself a 2009 E92 M3 with 20k miles on the clock, in Space grey, with a six-speed manual gearbox. “I was so excited to get the car and achieve my goal that I ended up getting a pretty basic model with no EDC, and no M Drive. But I didn’t care, it had everything I needed: three pedals, Fox red seats, and a carbon roof! I was all set, or so I thought…”
You see, it was the E92 M3 and its extensive aftermarket catalogue that introduced Shaun to modifying and, as he found, it was a very slippery slope. The final mods list for his M3 reads like your dream performance shopping list and highlights included: KW V3 coilovers; a custom 1M bumper; a carbon bonnet; BC Forged HB29 19s; and an ESS 625hp supercharger kit. So why on earth did he sell his fully modded, crazy-powerful M3? “I was undecided about what to do,” reveals Shaun. “I didn’t know whether to a) keep my E92 M3, which had grown to be an icon on the East Coast through Instagram and other social media or, b) part my car out/sell as is and get the new F series M car. At that point, I wasn’t entirely sold on getting a the new M car and it wasn’t until I raced against a few at MPact East 2015 and Slipstream RO2RO 2015 that I was sold!”
A few weeks later the E92 was gone, sold to one of Shaun’s Instagram followers, and the hunt for a new car began. Shaun knew whatever car he got, it had to make a big impact: “I had a hard act to follow coming from my E92 M3 build so I decided to go big or go home: I made the decision to order an F80 M3. I ordered a Frozen blue metallic car with the six-speed manual and Sakhir orange seats. About three months into my six-month wait for the car, I got a call from my Customer Adviser stating that BMW had denied my individual colour choice. Saddened by this news, I was ready to pull the plug on my order. However, the wonderful service advisors at BMW North America really went above and beyond and, with three days left before the production of my vehicle, they sent me a list of over 200 BMW blues. In the end it came down to Macau blue or Avus blue. Both were colours that I had never seen in person, and both were colours that had not been done on the F80 M3 platform before. With the help of my close friend and fellow BMW enthusiast, Reggie, I decided on a classic BMW blue, and went with Avus. I was thrilled with how vibrant the colour turned out to be.”
Having lost a 194hp moving from his supercharged E92 M3 to his factory-fresh F80 M3, it’s unsurprising that performance modifications were at the forefront of Shaun’s plans for his new build. “My plan was to beef-up the power output while not entering the detonation zone,” says Shaun. “I chose to go with Maximum PSI air intakes (custom painted Sakhir orange), RK Tunes three-piece charge pipes (also custom painted in Sakhir orange), RK Tunes cat-less downpipes, and an AWE Tuning nonresonated exhaust with the 102mm Black Diamond tips. For the tune, I went with a stack tune from DME Tuning and a Burger Motorsports JB4, so that I could really make the car a monster.
“Because I had to wait six months for the car to arrive, I had the pleasure of amassing a plethora of parts in the meantime, so the engine build took me all of one day after my 1200-mile break-in service. The swap was done with the help of my mechanic, Angel Munoz, and painter Danny Hernandez in Philadelphia, PA.”
The engine bay is really what sets Shaun’s M3 apart. Almost all engines these days are covered in swathes of black plastic and, being honest, we didn’t think there was anything that could be done to make the F8x M’s engine bay look interesting… but we were wrong. The combo of custom Sakhir pipes is stunning, transforming the S55 and making it look like the serious performance engine that it is. The addition of the Avus engine cover and gold detailing is inspired and the whole lot is topped-off by BMW’s carbon boomerang brace. And, as well as looking good, thanks to that comprehensive list of modifications this engine really delivers. It produces a massive 560whp, a huge gain over the stock power output, taking this M3 to the same sort of power level as his E92. However, according to Shaun the driving experience is very different. “It has more low end torque,” he says. “My E92 also had around 560-570whp but the way the F80 feels in comparison is night and day different. In the E92 you had to wind the engine up to around 4500rpm to start feeling the power but here the power comes on immediately; as soon as you step on the gas at around 2300-2500rpm you feel the torque and the power.”
Picking out engine details in gold to match the wheels was inspired, as was the choice of wheels itself. Let’s be honest, you really can’t go wrong with HREs as they are among the top-tier wheels that money can buy, and they’d always been on Shaun’s shopping list. “For this build, I wanted to be the most noticeable F80 M3 in the game,” he says, “and I had always wanted a set of HRE wheels, the S101 model to be exact. I had the opportunity to pick a set up with brushed gold faces and polished lips. I knew that the gold against the Avus blue would really stand out.” It really is a killer colour combo and the style of the 20” S101s looks awesome on the M3, with the wide spokes allowing Shaun to show off his custompainted Sakhir orange calipers.
But it’s not just the wheels, everything about this M3 looks so right. That’s thanks to the numerous styling touches he’s added. “The styling had to be classis #BMW , at least for this first iteration,” explains Shaun. “All the M3 badges were painted Avus blue while the front grilles were custom painted with Avus blue faces and gloss black sides. The side gills were touched with the same theme: Avus blue faces and gloss black sides. For the front of the car, I went with the BMW M Performance front lip and lower carbon splitters. I left the carbon alone and custom painted the polyurethane lip Avus blue and I custom painted the M Performance side skirts in Avus blue as well. For the headlights, BavGruppe in New York gave them a custom gloss black finish with M tricolour stripes. For the rear of the car, I went with the Mode Carbon F82 M4-style rear spoiler, and I went with the Vorsteiner rear diffuser. Again, this was all made possible by Danny Hernandez.
“Finally, to protect the paint and all of the hard work we did with the colour matching, I had the whole car covered in Expel Tech paint protection film by Exclusive Vinyl in East Meadow, New York.”
The styling is absolutely on point, all those details add up to make a big impact. It’s further helped by how well the cars sits over those HREs, with Shaun opting for the KW height adjustable spring kit, allowing him to retain the EDC whilst also giving him control over the ride height and letting him eliminate any unsightly arch gap in the process.
If it looks good from the outside, you ain’t seen nothing yet because a vast amount of work has gone into making the interior as special as possible. “I wanted to do something to the interior that had not been done to an F8x model before,” says Shaun, “so, I reached out to the guys at ESH Upholstery in Maryland to help bring some ideas to life. With 1200 miles on the car, we pulled the dash, the door panels, the headlining, the A- and B-pillars, the rear deck shelf, the seat backs, the door pulls, the gear lever, and the handbrake gaiters out of the car. We went with a custom black Alcantara to cover all of these panels. For the dash we wanted to go for something eyecatching and one of a kind, so we went with M tricolour hand-stitching, which continues onto the door pulls. We also wrapped the seat backs in Sakhir orange BMW leather with Alcantara outer sections. All this was done in just 72 hours so the car would be ready for the Philadelphia Auto Show, where the car made its first East Coast show debut in the DUB show.” Considering how nice the stock interior is, the Alcantara has really taken the interior of this car to a whole new level of luxury.
As far as we’re concerned, this M3 is pretty much perfect. Everything from that gorgeous colour to the additional aggression of the styling, the knock-out wheels, and that beautiful interior makes it impossible for us to tear our eyes away. That all this was accomplished in just two weeks is pretty mind-blowing, really. With this being such a fresh project, it’s no surprise when Shaun rattles off a list of money-no-object mods he now wants (“GTS Racing seats, upgraded turbos, air-ride…”). Neither do we raise an eyebrow when he says he’s already planning stage two. “As this show season is coming to an end, I am coming up with new tricks and ideas to kill the game next show season. Stay tuned to my Instagram (@M3NahRich) for more updates,” he grins. We will, because we can’t wait to see where this beast of a build is going next.
DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 , #Maximum-PSI intake, #RK-Tunes chargepipes and downpipes in #Sakhir orange, #Burger-Motorsports JB4, #DME-Tuning stack tune, #Avus blue engine cover with gold highlights, #AWE-Tuning non-resonated exhaust with 102mm black tips, six-speed manual ’box, UUC short-shifter
CHASSIS 9.5x20” ET20 (front) and 11x20” ET37 (rear) HRE S101 wheels with brushed light gold centres and polished lips with 265/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW H.A.S sleeve kit, custom painted Sakhir orange calipers
EXTERIOR Full BMW M performance kit consisting of front carbon splitters, lower front lip, side skirts, all custom painted, M3 badges painted Avus blue, custom Avus blue and gloss black kidney grilles and side gills, BavGruppe custom headlights in gloss black with M tricolour stripes, Vorsteiner rear diffuser, Mode Carbon rear spoiler
INTERIOR ESH Upholstery full Alcantara interior and M stitching including headlining, A- and B-pillars, door inserts, full dash, rear deck, door pulls, and gaiters, seat backs finished in Sakhir orange leather with Alcantara panels
THANKS Danny Hernandez Paint Work, Angel Munoz Installation, Roman at Exclusive Vinyl, Alex at ESH Upholstery, Kourtney at Adam’s Polishes, Tom at BavGruppe, Mike Kuhn, Chad from Pristine Auto Leasing, Eric Keuhn, Reggie Balmir, and god
“I wanted to be the most noticeable F80 M3 in the game”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationIt was only a matter of time before an F8x M3 or M4 made its way on to our cover. Perhaps you’re surprised it’s taken this long or perhaps you’re surprised it’s an M3 and not an M4 but this car really did it for us. Not only because of the individual paint, the custom interior work and those wheels but also because the owner has really put the work in on the performance front and has extracted the sort of figures that you’d see from a full-on supercharged E9x M3. That’s impressive, even for a turbocharged engine. As is the fact that he’s achieved what seemed almost impossible at one point: making the engine bay actually look attractive. Fighting against all the black plastic is an uphill struggle, but this is one S55 engine bay that’s guaranteed to get your attention. / #BMW-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-M3
A lot of E9x M3 owners have made the switch to an F8x M3 or M4 and it’s definitely a very different experience, but so far everyone we’ve come across has been happy with their move from V8 to a straight-six and turbos, no matter how backwards that sentence might seem. Considering the M3 and M4 have only been about for two years or so, it feels like the modifying is gathering momentum and we can’t wait to see how far people will push things in the coming years. There’s a lot of potential there, that’s for sure. Just how much potential? Well, turn to page 8 and the 1040whp E36 M3 could be a glimpse into the future, especially as it is also running a 3.0-litre straight-six. The car’s been built for Time Attack and racing, and we’d wager it’s a lot of fun…
For those of you who prefer your motoring more road-legal then we’ve got a fantastically focused 1M for your reading pleasure along with a sharp Dakar yellow E46 M3. We swear that car just keeps getting better with age. Speaking of age, we’re head over heels in love with that bagged beauty of an E23 L7 on; not only is it rare to see an E23, it’s rarer still to see an L7 and even rarer than that to see a modified one. Handily, it’s been beautifully done and looks absolutely fantastic. We love the usual classic car suspects, but it’s great to see someone casting their net wider and having fun with something a bit different. Enjoy the October issue of PBMW wherever in the world you may be and whatever you may be driving, we’ll catch you next month for the November issue! It’s basically Christmas…Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ 2016 #BMW-M3-F80 Competition With more power, reworked suspension and cosmetic upgrades is this the best M3 yet?
Upping the Ante The M3 Competition offers more power and rehoned suspension, but is it a winner?
BMW’s Competition pack-equipped M3 has arrived but does it justify the £3000 premium over the standard car? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.
There’s something about the launch of a new M3 that seems to encourage criticism and every time a new version comes to market there always seem to be those who can’t wait to fire a salvo across its bows. We won’t go through every single one of these, but the E36 was criticised for not being an E30, the E92 was initially lambasted for not being an E46 CSL and the hardest challenge faced to-date has been for the latest incarnation. For starters it’s turbocharged, which hasn’t gone down well in some quarters, and some folk are still struggling with the idea that the Coupé version now goes under the M4 moniker.
While the new F8x M3 and M4 garnered much praise on their international launch debuts – at a race track and on roads that were warm, dry and relatively well-surfaced – their reception in some quarters, once subject to more in-depth tests in colder, damper climes (i.e in the UK), have been less enthusiastic. It’s probably fair to say that the car has split opinion – some love its low-down torque-rich turbocharged grunt, while others are blaming it for the lack of traction, especially in lower gears in the cold and wet.
Others seem to put the blame down to a chassis that perhaps lacks a little bit of ultimate control, or that’s slightly lacking in finesse. You need the softer setting for the dampers for our broken-up roads, yet when pushing on it doesn’t provide enough body control, yet the stiffer settings can have the wheels pattering over the surface and losing traction again. The bottom line is that the M3 or M4 can be a handful to drive quickly in less than perfect conditions, but shouldn’t that be part of the challenge of driving a powerful rear-wheel drive sports coupé or saloon? Maybe it’s simply a reflection on a generation of drivers who are being brought up on point-and-squirt machinery looked after by an electronic nanny that will intervene when the driver’s talent level has been exceeded? Or perhaps more to the point should you really be driving that fast on a public road?
Those are probably discussions for another day, but the fact of the matter is that BMW has already launched a revised M3 and M4, or rather launched a Competition package that can be spec’d when you order your M3/4. This was a pretty successful move on both the E46 and E92 M3s, although on these two models the Comp pack was added towards the end of these cars’ lives to help in re-establishing interest in machines that were getting a little long in the tooth. The current cars are still pretty youthful, so it could be argued that the Competition package is a bit of an early arrival.
Whether its arrival has been brought forward is a moot point though, and quite frankly we doubt it – these things tend to be planned years in advance – but it’s here and after having done the best part of a 1000 miles in an M3 Competition we can report that it’s actually rather good. The Competition pack costs an additional £3000 on top of your M3 or M4 and it has to be said that you do get an awful lot of kit for your money. For the first time on this model the Competition pack comes with a power upgrade – not huge at an additional 19hp (bringing the total up to a nice, rounded 450hp) – and while the torque output remains the same at 406lb ft the additional grunt is sufficient enough to bring the 0-62mph time down by 0.1 seconds for both manual and M DCTequipped cars. Thus the headline figure for ‘our’ M3 with the DCT ‘box is now just 4.0 seconds. One of the changes for the S55 straight-six is a new bedplate design that’s been stiffened to cope with the additional output and this modified bedplate will have been fitted to all M3 and M4s from Mach production, whether equipped with the Comp pack or not.
The most obvious external change to the M3 are the fitment of a set of even larger alloys – Star-spoke Style 666M as fitted to the M4 GTS but without the lurid Acid orange highlights – and these measure 9x20-inches at the front and 10x20-inches at the rear and are wrapped in 265/30 and 285/30 tyres front and rear respectively. You’ve probably clocked that our car isn’t fitted with these but we’ll get onto that in a minute. To go with the wheel upgrade are a comprehensive set of changes to the suspension which features new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars as well as recalibrated settings for both the Active M Differential and the Dynamic Stability Control in both the fully on and MDM settings.
Other external distinguishing features include kidney grilles and side gill covers finished in Individual high-gloss shadowline trim, and this extends to the window surrounds, the mirrors bases and even the M3 badge. The exhaust continues the dark theme with tips in black chrome and the rear exhaust box to which they’re attached has also come in for some attention, being redesigned with a modified exhaust flap arrangement to bring out more of the straight-six’s vocal character. There are a couple of interior upgrades too, but we’ll come to those in a minute. Our first task for the car is to drive it back from Geneva where it’s been ferrying journalists around at the motor show and as a result it’s sitting on a set of 19-inch winter wheels equipped with winter rubber.
While this might not initially have seemed like the best start as we’ll ideally be wanting to sample the complete Competition package, it soon looks like an inspired choice by BMW’s press folk as when we spear off into the gloom on a late night dash back to the UK the on-board computer is indicating that it’s minus four and the snow is soon strobing across the powerful LED lights ahead. In fact, in the week we spent with the car the temperature didn’t rise much over five degrees which made the tyre choice just about perfect.
We did initially have concerns that the exhaust might make the M3 a tiring companion on a long haul back to London, but it’s perfectly judged – quiet and unobtrusive when cruising, but deliciously vocal as you sprint away from the Peage booths on the French motorways, eliciting a delicious rumbling on every up-change. The temptation to simply keep the throttle pinning to the floor and just flex your right fingers to change up a cog every second or two until you hit the speed limiter at 155mph is hard to bear and it’s possible we might have strayed a smidgen over the speed limit every now and then while doing this, but France has such draconian speeding penalties these days that the spectre of a colossal fine and a driving ban really does focus the mind, especially when travelling on your own. The possibility of being stranded on an autoroute in the middle of the night with an M3 for company and a French copper telling you you can’t drive it any more just doesn’t bear thinking about.
Thus it’s a pretty tedious slog which in no way is a reflection on the M3, just simple circumstance. Spending seven hours in the M3’s cockpit does, however, allow you to become pretty familiar with its fixtures and fittings. There’s lashings of gorgeous carbon fibre trim in here and even under dim ambient light conditions it exhibits a lovely lustre and the leather-clad and hand-stitched dash looks superb too, adding a touch of class to what would otherwise be a large expanse of black plastic. The main change for the Comp pack in the interior is the fitment of a pair of lightweight front bucket seats which look utterly sublime with high backs and extensive wings to hold you in place. A nice touch is seat belts with the M tricolours stitched into them in a subtle strip along one edge. However, after a long time in the saddle those seats do ultimately seem to be a little lacking in lumbar support for your lower back and if you’re broad of beam, especially across the shoulders, you can feel like your upper back is being a little pinched by the chairs. They’re more comfortable than the fixed buckets in an E46 CSL, but not quite as comfy as the normal M3 seats as far as we’re concerned, but we should stress that this is something you’re only likely to encounter if you’re a larger-sized individual, and if you have a slightly dodgy back the seats won’t do it any favours.
Once back in the UK and suitably rested it’s time to get to grips with the M3 in a more challenging environment. The blat back from Geneva has proved that it can still be a very refined and, seats aside, a comfortable and relaxing long distance cruiser. It also returned a smidgen over 30mpg on the trip which is pretty decent economy for a 450hp monster. But let’s face it if all your driving is going to long distance motorway slogging you’d be much better off with a 320d. Presumably you bought an M3 to have a bit of fun behind the wheel too, before cars with a human steering them are banned to be replaced by autonomously driven connected bubbles.
There’s no doubt that the M3 can still dole out the driving thrills like few other machines. We don’t care what anyone says about the latest M cars losing some of their aural edge with the move to turbocharging, they still sound pretty awesome to us, even if the sound has a different character it’s not less intoxicating. Those delicious baritone burbles are there on the over run, and it’s tempting to accelerate hard to the redline and then just back off to hear the brooding symphony coming from the quad pipes.
The M DCT transmission is still a great piece of kit with changes being of the seamless variety until you’ve really put the hammer down when you can still indulge in a bit of thumping between cogs if you like that sort of thing – a momentary lift takes the edge off the severity of the changes – the choice is up to you.
But what of the extensive chassis revisions? We certainly felt they made the M3 significantly more confidence inspiring and even on winters the rear end seemed to be much more connected with the Tarmac. You can now tackle a set of challenging corners without the feeling that the car is about to get caught out by a sudden crest or dip and that the suspension will need to catch up with the car’s body before things are back under control again. The new anti-roll bars seem to help here and the way the front end resists the temptation to understeer makes the M3 a hugely entertaining companion on a spirited drive. Yes you can still have the DSC light dancing a demented flamenco in the dash pod if you’re not measured with your throttle inputs in the lower gears, but the trick is to either change up the ‘box faster or be more measured with your throttle inputs. It remains one of our favourite ways to drive fast and the chassis upgrades simply make it a slightly less fraught experience. The optional carbon ceramic stoppers fitted to our car are massively reassuring too, offering stunning retardation when required.
We’re sure the naysayers will still be able to find fault with the Competition pack-equipped M3 and M4 though, but ignore them – BMW will never build another E30 M3 – it’s time to move on and get over it. For us, though, the Comp pack brings more aural stimulation, a slightly different look and an enhanced driving experience, especially when really pushing on – at £3000 you could almost call it a bit of bargain. Our only dilemma is which colour to choose…
There’s no doubt that the M3 can still dole out the driving thrills like few other machines.
The way the front end resists the temptation to understeer makes the M3 a hugely entertaining companion.
TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #BMW-M3-Competition-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW
ENGINE: Twin-turbo, 24-valve, straight-six, #Valvetronic , double #Vanos , direct injection / #BMW / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #S55B30 / #S55-tuning
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.2:1
MAX POWER: 450hp @ 7000rpm
MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 1850-5500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.2 seconds (4.0)
50-75MPH (5th GEAR): 4.2 seconds (4.3)
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
ECONOMY: 32.1mpg (M DCT 34.0)
EMISSIONS (CO²): 204g/km (194)
WEIGHT (DIN): 1535kg (1560)
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport
FRONT: 265/30 ZR20
REAR: 285/30 ZR20
PRICE (OTR): £59,595 (£62,240)
Figures in brackets refer to seven-speed #M-DCT
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- Post is under moderationALL EYEZ ON M3
It takes very little to get the F80 M3 looking absolutely awesome, as this example so effortlessly proves. The F8x M3 and M4 have captured the hearts and minds of the modified BMW scene and it doesn’t take much to bring out the best in them. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Kuhn.
It’s taken us a little while to warm to the F3x 3 Series but we got there in the end. You’d have thought that by now it would be a bit of a make or break moment seeing as it’s been out for a good few years and while an SE on small wheels leaves a bit to be desired, an M Sport has a lot more going for it, while the M3 and M4 are a whole other matter altogether. It’s been about 18 months since we sampled the high performance duo and hopefully that’s enough time for everyone to get over the fact that there’s now an M4, and get on with enjoying it. And while the S55 sounds nowhere near as good as the S65 V8 does, the M3 and M4 can be made to look utterly spectacular with very little effort. Even in stock form the pairing ooze unbridled aggression; it spills out of every crease and angle of their styling. Tapping into this and unleashing it turns the visual impact dial all the way up to 11. It’s the lowness and wideness that does it. Both just have so much road presence and while the M4’s body is wider, the M3’s narrower body but identical track means it gets those pumped up arches that give it a stance to die for.
Amir Khoshnevis (F80_M3 on Instagram) clearly agrees because the F80 M3 you’re looking at belongs to him. Mind you, seeing as he’s an eye doctor, you’d expect him to have an eye for these things (sorry!). But he clearly genuinely does because he’s made this M3 look so good. It’s the latest in a long line of modified M3s that the good doctor has owned, the result of growing up in a family that was into BMWs: “My first BMW love was an Alpine white E30 owned by my cousin, before I could even drive. The brand has been in my family for as long as I can recall.” For Amir’s BMWs have always been about the driver experience. “People would always say: if you love to drive, buy a Bimmer; if you want to have someone drive you, buy a Benz! My first BMW was a 1997 E36 M3 Saloon. I saved money after graduating and had nothing else in mind but the M3. I had to own it.” This was followed by an E46, E92 and E90, all enhanced with suspension upgrades, performance exhausts and M Performance goodies. And that path could only lead to one possible destination…
“Buying the F80 was the logical progression,” says Amir. “Moving forward with the M3 brand, I had to be the first to have one. I took delivery of the first one supplied to my local dealer in mid-July 2014. While we don’t doubt that there were some thoughts about modifying swirling about his brain Amir admits he never planned to go as far as he actually has. He’s not stopped either, the modifications constantly evolving and he’s even reinvented the car since we first saw it, honing it into an even more devastatingly handsome brute of a machine.
Alpine white is a great choice of colour, though we’re glad we’re not the ones who have to keep it clean, and it really makes all the black elements on the body pop. Amir has raided the M Performance catalogue, adding an M Performance front lip that makes the front end seem so much more complete with added carbon splitters, custom side skirts, a subtle sliver of a rear spoiler and a rather beefy rear diffuser that fills out the bumper perfectly. Below the bumper are the massive 102mm quad pipes of the GTHaus Meisterschaft GTC exhaust.
“Another great modification is the use of Modesta glass coating for the paint and the wheels,” says Amir. “The folks at Carolina Auto Image applied the coating in order to protect the paint (after paint correction) and to ensure the paint effectively repels water. It also gives the Alpine white significant depth and enhanced reflective properties, too.”
Judging by how incredibly glossy that paintwork looks in the photos, it’s money well spent. Perusing the paintwork you’ll also spot the gloss black grille surrounds from IND Distribution along with matching side markers and vents, while the front reflectors have been painted and there’s more carbon in the form of a numberplate cover and rear M badge. We love it not only for its relative subtlety but for the fact that all the elements combine to make a real difference.
So, Amir had his F80 M3 looking sharp but he still needed to address the small matter of wheels and suspension. If you’ve been following Thorney Motorsport’s running reports on its M4 you’ll know that the standard setup isn’t best suited to allowing the car to comfortably and capably deliver all its power, so that’s definitely an area that needs addressing for anyone that’s intent on using the M3 seriously; and there’s no harm in a little lowering while you’re at it now, is there? As for the wheels, well, we think it’s fair to say that BMWs in recent times haven’t been sporting the most elegant or stylish of wheel designs. We’re struggling to think of a recent #BMW wheel that has come anywhere near to something like the Style 5 or Contour or M Parallel for sheer desirability. And while the M3’s 19s aren’t horrible, there’s lots of room for improvement. We all know how important wheels are to the overall look of your car and so does Amir as he’s already on his second set in about 18 months, and it’s not as if his first set was ropey. “I chose to go with MORR Wheels first because I wanted a more custom and personal build for my car. The company delivered with a beautiful set that was perfectly matched to the F80,” he explains. And, having seen those wheels on the car, we have to agree that it was a great combination. But there’s always room for improvement. “After hearing about the FI-R by BBS, I hounded IND Distribution to help me get one of the first sets available in the States,” he continues. “ They were able to secure one for me and the wait began. The FI-R is an engineering marvel. These 19” wheels weigh 16.5lb in the front and 17.5lb in the rear!
They are not only beautiful but serve a great function, reducing unsprung weight.” The FI-Rs do indeed look fantastic on the F80, and the 19s are the perfect size for the body. IND Distribution also carried out some custom pinstriping on the wheels for Amir, highlighting the #BBS lettering and the word ‘forged’ in gloss black. And, in a world obsessed with stretch, we like the fact that a performance BMW has been fitted with some suitably serious rubber, with beefy 265/30 and 295/30 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres front and rear respectively filling the space between rim and arch perfectly, with a little help from the suspension, of course.
“I had the KW HAS kit first (adjustable lowering springs) in order to close the unusually large wheel gap in the front of the car (mostly),” says Amir, “but I was looking for improved ride and performance and decided to change to the #KW Variant 3 coilovers recently. The difference is remarkable. The handling, road feel, cornering and balance have all improved over the stock and HAS Kit.” And let’s not forget the adjustable ride height that allows for the perfect drop.
Fling open the driver’s door and things get very red, very quickly. That’s all good with us as we’re big fans of colourful interiors. With BMW finally fitting the M3 and M4 with the kind of seats you would expect to find in a car of this calibre – and the kind of seats that Audis and even Fiestas have been enjoying for a while – there’s little need or desire to go changing them, especially when illuminated logos come into the equation.
Amir has, however, put in an order for a set of sexy Mode Carbon carbon (obviously) seat backs, which will go perfectly with the lashings of carbon you’ll find adorning most surfaces in the cabin, with the magical black weave coating the M Performance gear selector and handbrake lever, DCT surround and the bottom of the M Performance Alcantara steering wheel, complete with digital gauge and there’s also an M Performance pedal set.
As good as this M3 may look, Amir is far from finished and he’s already planning the next round of modifications. “It took just over a year to do all this but I’m starting phase two now, so it’s definitely not over! I have a more aggressive build in mind and I’m starting on that project with new wheels (which are currently in production and should be the best of the bunch), an exhaust system with a tune, and some exterior enhancements to follow,” he says. Phase one was good but phase two sounds even better. When it comes to modifying M3s, the doctor is most definitely in.
“If you love to drive, buy a Bimmer; if you want to have someone drive you, buy a Benz!”
Very red interior has been slathered in carbon fibre.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW /
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 / #S55 , #GTHAUS #Meisterschaft GTC exhaust with 102mm tips, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.
CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #BBS-FI-R wheels with custom black gloss pinstriping, 265/30 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #KW-V3 coilovers.
EXTERIOR Modesta glass coating, M Performance carbon fibre splitters, rear spoiler, diffuser, front lip, custom Aeroflow Dynamics side skirts, IND Distribution gloss black front grille surrounds, side markers and vents, rear M3 emblem, cf number plate cover, painted front reflectors.
INTERIOR M Performance Alcantara steering wheel with digital gauge, M Performance carbon fibre gear selector, handbrake lever and #DCT surround, #M-Performance pedal set.
THANKS IND Distribution, Carolina Auto Image, Hendrick BMW.
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- Post is under moderationEvolutionary Thinking / #2015 / #BMW
Which is the better M3 Saloon, the older V8-engined E90 or the all-new turbocharged #BMW-F80 ? It’s the M4 Coupé that seems to have grabbed all the press coverage so we’ve pitched the F80 M3 Saloon up against its illustrious #BMW-E90 / #BMW-M3 predecessor. Words and photography: Mark Williams.
Evolution generally dictates that new should be better than old. That which succeeds what went before represents an overall increment, an improvement on what was thought, at the time, to be the latest and greatest example of its type. Buildings, computers, smart phones; each iteration builds on the technology, methods and approaches deployed by their predecessor to achieve greatness. And nowhere is this insatiable urge to improve more visible than with the cars we choose to drive.
But is new always better? And is it possible to answer that question objectively, and not open up the minefield which is subjective thoughts on design or engineering principles? Thanks to some judicious timing, I was recently able to appraise the new F80 M3 against the context of the E90 version which has just ceased production. It isn’t a direct back-to-back comparison (hence the different backgrounds in the pics), but considering that all that separated the two drives was a single night’s sleep and some Sunday evening telly, the resultant impressions are still perfectly valid. And in case you’re wondering, the reason I didn’t drive the M4 variant was not because I don’t approve of the name or any of that nonsense. Rather, I was keen to try the M3 because the media world and his wife appear to have focussed only on the M4 and the saloon version has received relatively little press.
F80 first then, because the E90 won’t be available until Monday and it’s a warm and sunny early Saturday afternoon when I’m greeted by the rich red leather of the M3’s cabin. It’s not quite blood red, thankfully being slightly higher in tone than that, and I’m always cautious of looking after red leather correctly otherwise it ages poorly, but on first acquaintance it certainly strikes a ‘no nonsense’ tone.
As does the carbon trim, and combined they do enough to lift the interior above the level of the cooking models. The seats don’t have thigh support extensions though, which is bizarre, but they do have illuminated ‘M’ badges in the seat backs for a little extra night time tinsel, and whatever you think of that idea I can confirm they look seriously cool once darkness falls. Then you spot the side bolstering and those ‘no nonsense’ feelings start to ebb back in.
And that impression doesn’t really fade much during the early miles. From the orchestral start up procedure through to the coughs and spits of the exhaust and the shunting of the drivetrain which makes me wonder whether a rebodied Nissan GT-R actually resides underneath me, the M3 states its case and clarifies its purpose right from the off. We’re on our way to Rugby, traversing the A423 which later morphs into the A426 and which runs roughly north east from Banbury, out into Warwickshire, and the M3 is a delightful companion along here and when driven with purpose. Muscular and musical lower down (we’ll address the noise specifically in a moment) and increasingly bombastic as the revs rise, we scamper along, dispatching slower fare with laughable ease.
Villages slow our progress, which wouldn’t be so much of an issue ordinarily, but the M3 dialled back to town speeds suddenly feels hemmed in and one has to start pressing buttons in order to relax the tension you wound into the chassis and drivetrain along the blacktop which brought you here. This is where the M1 and M2 mode buttons come into their own of course, as one is able to pick-n-mix individual settings for suspension, throttle response and steering weight, which sounds ideal. However, as yet another pothole signals the arrival of a set of lights and the sensitive throttle launches us across the intersection upon the green signal, I do find myself briefly wondering whether a good passive setup which strikes an ideal balance all the time would be more preferable.
I’m being slightly melodramatic I suppose, but nevertheless there is a feeling evident here which also struck me about the M135i when I drove that a year or so ago. Drive like a man possessed and it makes perfect sense, but for the day-to-day a feeling grows that the latent energy available here is being utterly wasted.
None of this matters when you wind it up though and let’s face facts, most of the appeal of cars like this is precisely because they have great untapped reserves of gusto, and if the price for that are some minor histrionics around town then so what. So click the left paddle once or maybe twice, and chase the throttle. And now hear the noise. It doesn’t build; it’s suddenly there. Augmented and slightly binary, yes.
But also all-enveloping and crucially, as will become apparent when we sample the E90 the following day, available immediately as the revs pick up and not only when the motor climbs on cam. The bottom line is you get more of what you want, what you paid for, what you demand, more of the time. And with Sport engaged, and the two-stage flaps in the exhaust opened, you’re treated to an intoxicating mix of blower whine from up front, coupled to sampled intake and combustion noises washing around the cabin and topped off with proper exhaust noise from the rear. It sounds glorious. It’s been described elsewhere as being industrial but that’s nonsense and a luddite’s view.
So with a feeling that a passing satellite has hooked the front, you disappear up the road in a flurry of road debris and exhaust roar. Go for the paddles and the whole process starts again. The M3 goes feral, the noise hardens and the blown six seems to kick again. Each change results in a thud through the drivetrain and an explosive report from the exhausts which makes me later wonder how the mechanics of these things will age. Out of respect for this car’s minimal mileage, plus my licence, I decide to back off at this point and attempt to process what this thing is capable off. No time for that though as there’s a corner suddenly approaching…
It’s gone in an instant, the M3 tracking through the apex and out the other side, and now another is rushing at us through the windscreen. My wife, now clearly aware of what I’m up to, has placed her mobile phone in her lap and grabbed hold of the armrest just that little bit tighter as the M3 loads up under braking. Turn in, sense the total conviction at the front end, the absence of understeer and pick up the throttle. The weight shifts to the rear and the steering seems to want to unload, so dig further into the throttle and sense the balance settle further across the chassis, then diagonally to the outside rear.
The M3 is loaded up now, and split second decisions are needed in terms of which subconscious option you select. Back off at this point and the door closes on the weight transfer, sending the tail-light and the electronics to intervene to keep you honest. Get out of the throttle by relaxing your toe pressure though and the chassis works each outside tyre equally, digging into the Tarmac and howling through the curve in spectacular fashion. But this is an M3, and those engineers know their onions, so with the chassis already loaded you ask the engine for a little more, and at this point you enter the zone where the M3 truly excels. In an instant (and it really is a heartbeat), grip is defeated, and whilst the weight transfer is still there driving you forward, the M3 is loose. But the front is still with you, it’s not gone AWOL, and whilst I won’t claim the steering maintains a constant dialogue, neither does it suddenly gain unhelpful weight or inconsistent speed. So with eyes locked on to a spot through the side window and just above the wing mirror, you instinctively relax your grip on that loaded column and the wheel quarter-locks itself in the opposite direction. Grab a hold, steady the throttle, and you’re broadside through the turn, my wife wondering what on earth she has done to deserve this and only now does my daughter look up from the iPad, wondering what’s going on. The apex zips past the nearside windows and with a steady throttle I manually offload the lock before we disappear up the road and into the morning.
In the dry, this thing covers the ground at a frankly astonishing lick, but at that moment when the drivetrain is fully loaded and the blowers are fully lit, the chassis alights on your shoulder like the proverbial devil and goes ‘here fella, what do you want to do now?’. That moment feels like something you would only want to succumb to provided the wipers weren’t operating. You can trust the M3, and the combination of power, poise and phenomenal braking once you’ve pushed through a soft-ish spot at the top of the travel ensures that every drive is an event. And whilst we’re talking about the brakes, you really don’t need the carbon ceramics unless you particularly want or need to spend thousands extra. But that moment where the chassis switches its balance, you’d have to be very good to smile back at the devil on your shoulder and go ‘yeah, go on then’.
Next morning, the E90 presents itself as a slightly more subdued proposition, both in terms of the bassy exhaust note and the relative lack of body agenda. Inside it’s clearly a generation removed and it seems an awfully lot more smaller in here, too. Outside it really doesn’t seem to have aged very much to my eyes but here’s the thing; where’s the noise? I’m having to wind it up in order to please the ears and the simple truth takes us back to that allenveloping comment of driving the F80. The E90 wants you to wind it up before it really hands over the goods. And that’s all very well, but I’m not convinced that I need to drive everywhere with the throttle nailed to the bulkhead before I feel that I’m achieving something. And the last time I checked, neither are the police. Overall it sounds the business of course, it’s a normally aspirated V8 when all said and done (and not a flat-plane crank either, something I’ve never quite connected with). But whereas the F80 was giving you early-doors on the noise front, the E90 is waiting until closing time comes calling at 4k or higher before it sounds like it’s really trying. When it does arrive, you’re greeted by a delightful, hollow, titanium raspy sound. I just wish it was there more of the time.
Still, it goes well enough of course, and there’s the same unflappable feel to the front end in the corners. But the absence of turbocharged torque results in a chassis which is not quite straining at the leash to the same degree, so the feeling that one is glancing over the edge and into the abyss at the first sign of moisture from the sky isn’t evident. And that’s a good thing. But now I seem to be pushing the throttle to the carpet in order to make the thing go, and I suppose that’s a bad thing. It’s also the price of progress, or evolution, which is where we came in.
At least the years of evolution in between haven’t apparently had much effect on its mechanicals – 35k miles have passed beneath those wheels, but you’d be hard pressed to tell from the driving experience alone, which if nothing else I guess suggests that the F80’s mechanicals will age just fine. If you can’t stretch to the circa £60k you need for modern day M3 ownership, then the £28k or so James Paul is asking for this example is a fine compromise.
Ultimately, new wins over old for me (I go over both cars in more detail in a video review on my Quently Bentin YouTube channel, so please pop over and have a look). I’ll therefore take the F80. I actually prefer the noise it makes to the E90. I like that the noise is there more of the time, and that I can work less in order to extract it. I like the slightly dark side to its character, the suggestion of malevolence to the way it goes down the road, the suggestion that the car is secretly hoping for rain in order to reach for that pitch fork and stoke the fires. Frustration at operating at third-throttle may dog it wherever it goes, but the new M3 is magnificent, and the master of the E90. And evolution has its toughest job yet when the time comes to replace it.
THANKS TO: James Paul
Tel: 01403 823723 / Web: www.jamespaul.co.uk
North Oxford BMW / Tel: 01865 319000 / Web: www.oxfordbmw.co.uk
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-DCT-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-M3-DCT
ENGINE: Straight-six, twin turbo / #S55B30T0 / #S55B30 / #S55 /
MAX POWER: 431hp @ 5500-7300rpm
MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 1850-5500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.1 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph
ECONOMY ON TEST: 21.8mpg
PRICE (OTR): £59,090
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-DCT-E90 / / #BMW-M3-E90
ENGINE: V8, naturally aspirated / #S65B40 / #S65 /
MAX POWER: 420hp @ 8300rpm
MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft @ 3900rpm
0-62MPH: 4.7 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph
ECONOMY ON TEST: 18mpg
PRICE (OTR): £51,805 (2010)
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