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    TOM 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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    Evolutionary 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 /
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 431hp @ 5500-7300rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 1850-5500rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.1 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    ECONOMY: 34mpg
    ECONOMY ON TEST: 21.8mpg
    EMISSIONS: 194g/km
    PRICE (OTR): £59,090


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-M3-DCT-E90 / / #BMW-M3-E90
    ENGINE: V8, naturally aspirated / #S65B40 / #S65 /
    CAPACITY: 3999cc
    MAX POWER: 420hp @ 8300rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft @ 3900rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.7 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph
    ECONOMY: 25.2mpg
    ECONOMY ON TEST: 18mpg
    EMISSIONS: 263g/km
    PRICE (OTR): £51,805 (2010)
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