- Post is under moderationBMW M240i
The M Performance coupe surprises a sceptical staff writer with its ability to feel more like a proper M Division car.
/ #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #2018
Our M240i has been with us for a good six months as I write this, but despite plenty of opportunities, I haven’t felt particularly compelled to hop into this 335bhp rear-wheel- drive coupe. Why? Because I’ve simply never fallen for the M240i, nor its predecessor, the M235i, or its hot hatch equivalent, the M140i. To me they’re good, ordinary #BMW s: fast enough and with decent handling, but the M Division influence implied by the ‘M Performance’ branding has never felt overwhelming.
Then recently I noticed that our 240 had spent a couple of nights in the car park, so I took pity on it. And I found more obvious M-car traits than I was expecting, although, as is the modern way, I had to select Sport or Sport+ mode before these characteristics became apparent. The first was from the gearbox.
Unfortunately, the abrupt gearchange that you experience with the #DCT ’box in current M-cars has made its way into the M240i’s eight-speed auto. At every full-throttle upshift the change of ratios is so forceful that it sends a shock through the drivetrain. If you change up mid-corner the whole car becomes flustered. Thankfully this isn’t as frightening as in the proper #M-cars , as the 240i’s open differential means only one tyre will lose traction, rather than both, if the gearchange is especially brutal. It’s perhaps the first time in my life I’ve been glad a rear-wheel-drive car didn’t have an LSD.
Once accustomed to the brusque ’box, things got much better. In Sport mode the M240i feels more willing to weave its nose through a set of bends than any other sub-full-M BMW I’ve driven. Instead of the squidgy-soft chassis I had expected, I found much tighter control, less body roll and more precision. And even despite the lack of LSD, the throttle had a much greater influence on the car’s attitude than I thought it would.
This is the first M240i I’ve driven with adaptive dampers, and they clearly expand the car’s repertoire: every-day-comfortable on long journeys but sharper when you want to have fun. The M2 may make do with passive items, but the fancy dampers on the 240 do make it feel like more of an M-car when you need it to. Will Beaumont (@ Will-Beaumont)
Date acquired November 2017
Total mileage 8798
Mileage this month 1561
Costst his month £0
Mpg this month 28.5Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationLong Term Test Living with a… Kia Niro Hybrid Our on-going long term test – we return from the continent. #2018 / #Kia-Niro-Hybrid / #Kia-Niro / #Kia / Kia / #Hybrid
Having reached Italy, it soon became time to turn around and leave. Ultimately, it was an adventure to look forward to with no fewer than 80 tunnels to pass through before reaching the Italian Lago Maggiore in the northern Alpine foothills. It’s a stunning location with past grandeur and an enduring beauty that shall long outlive the civilisation that’s been built around it. The lake is host to magnificent palaces, once built to entertain and dine the world’s rich and famous, but now a tourist trap with old-world charm.
Meanwhile, the Niro had become our ever-dependable companion. Always ready and never skipping a beat. And, despite my previous comment to the contrary - “it wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding” - I had also discovered the joys of the Sport mode with optional manual gear shift. This function transforms the car and offers what feels like twice the pulling power of the car in regular driving mode.
The Niro Hybrid is particular scant of driver options, so, actually, it’s pleasantly easy to live with and understand in comparison to other cars that feature a dozen options. Sport mode serves up the electric torque in combination with the petrol engine, and in combination there’s the full 147Nm available. While that still isn’t very much, especially in a car of this size, it’s enough to ensure a smile can be had and, more importantly, a mountain can be climbed.
However, this is at the expense of fuel consumption, which quickly tumbles to mid-40s while climbing a hill. Of course, downhill is a different story and the Niro recuperates its battery reserve while also managing to remain in electric mode for the majority of a downhill stint. Unfortunately, this is marred by the interruption of the petrol engine that chips in unnecessarily and while the gearbox is still in a low gear.
The resulting whine is enough to make anyone with any mechanical sympathy wince, as the revs soar and it sounds like it’ll go ‘pop’. It doesn’t, by the way. This oddity aside, I’m impressed by the Niro’s ability up a mountain where a non-assisted petrol engine would typically struggle. The electric oomph certainly helped and, frankly, I wouldn’t have wanted to be without it.
Moving along from Italy and into Switzerland via the Grand St Bernard Pass, there was yet more stunning scenery to behold and more mountains to climb. Average fuel economy had now averaged out to around 55mpg - less up hill, more down hill.
Switzerland is a true wonder. It’s breathtaking combination of seemingly unspoilt mounts combined with the hauntingly peaceful echo of cow bells is simply bewildering. In addition, houses appear not to have boundaries and are instead placed at the edge of large open fence-free fields. This adds to the sense of freedom and the people are welcoming too. However, there’s a rather large caveat here and that is everything is ten times more expensive than we in the UK are used to. A mid-size bag of crisps in a nondescript supermarket in a small town, for example? That’ll be the equivalent of £4.50 thank you very much. Because of this, we wisely fuelled up the Niro in Italy before leaving its borders. Sadly, the expense of Switzerland grated a little, and having been put off by the €180 cost for two persons to travel up a ski lift to see a glacier that was covered by cloud, we soon left and made our way back to France where prices aren’t so exorbitant. A classy Swedish meatball feast from IKEA later and we were back on familiar territory.
We filled the Niro with goodies in France too, including twenty or so bottles of wine, as well as many foodie gifts for people back home. This really put the Niro’s load capacity to the test but it managed to swallow up all our three-weeks’ worth of luggage, shoes, coats, food and drink with relative ease. The under-boot floor storage proved useful, although some of the divisions provided were limiting rather than helpful, being a touch too narrow for anything more than a small bag of coffee beans. However, that’s not to say the overall package isn’t practical - it is - and that’s one major benefit of having the crossover styling. One thing is for certain, boot capacity is far superior to that of a Toyota Prius, which is arguably this car’s closest rival, excepting the Hyundai Ioniq.
After a 400 mile cruise, the Niro managed its way back to Blighty. Overall, we’d averaged a fairly healthy 55mpg, which is especially good considering the 80mph speeds we travelled at for most of the French motorway stint. My hope is this should improve with local use, but we shall soon see.
ABOVE The forever changing MPG of the Niro while going up and down mountains appeared to level off around the mid 50’s.
ABOVE At one point near the Italian ‘Cinque Terra’, the Niro was given a thorough inspection by a family of wild boar!
Specification 2018 Kia niro ‘2’ Hybrid
Max speed: 101 mph
0-60 mph: 11.1 secs
EV Range: ~1 miles
Drive: 1.6l petrol + e-motor
Transmission: 6-speed #DCT
Power: 104 bhp
Torque: 147 Nm
CO2: 88 g/km
Economy: 74.3mpg avg.
Battery: 1.56kWh Li-ion
Weight: 1,500 kg
Fully comp. ins. quote: £360.48 (e-sure; male, 30, no points, AL4)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW M4 CS / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe
It’s been a bumpy ride – both literally and metaphorically – for the F82-generation M4, but in the CS is the M division finally giving us the car we all crave? Photography: Stephen Hall.
EVO has had an on-off love affair with BMW’s M4. We admire its muscle-car looks, performance potential and rear-drive chassis. Being a product of M GmbH also infuses it with a desirability that rivals are still some way from achieving.
Yet it’s been a struggle to wholly fall for the M4. Its turbocharged 3-litre straight-six has the punch to fire it down a road and around a track with a force Anthony Joshua would swerve. But this has also been its downfall. So thuggish has been the delivery to the rear tyres that not only do they give up the fight for traction earlier than you are expecting, but so too does the rear suspension, throwing in the towel at the first sign of any loading through its springs and dampers. It makes for an infuriating experience, because on its day, on the right road and in the right conditions – a bone-dry, smooth surface – the M4 is your best mate. But few of us live at the Ascari race resort, so it’s often a mate you leave the pub early to avoid.
How, then, is BMW’s new M4 CS going to cope with a 29bhp increase to 454bhp and an additional 36lb ft, bringing the total to 442lb ft? The first part of the answer is the M4 Competition Package of 2016, which brought a lower ride height and stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. It greatly improved the base M4’s behaviour, even with a power increase to 444bhp. For MY18 cars, the Comp Pack itself has been improved (the upgrade has been upgraded, essentially), and it acts as a basis for the M4 CS we have here. M division chief Frank van Meel confirms there’s been not a single hardware change to the M4 CS’s chassis over that of the MY18 M4 Competition Package. Rather, he and his team have been busy with the laptops, reprogramming the M Adaptive suspension to better suit the now standard Michelin Cup 2 tyres. It’s the same situation with the electric power steering and the engine ECU, both of which have been optimised to sharpen the CS.
There are a number of further detail changes to the CS. It’s only available with the seven-speed M DCT double-clutch gearbox, and in addition to the carbonfibre roof that’s already standard on the M4, the front splitter, rear diffuser and bonnet are also carbon, the bonnet being 25 per cent lighter than the regular aluminium panel. The new bonnet also features a sizable vent ahead of the powerdome.
The 19in front and 20in rear wheels are lightweight items with 265/35 rubber at the front and 285/30 at the rear, the former being the focus for much of the damper tuning to improve steering precision. The only big mechanical change is the fitment of a more free-flowing exhaust, and due to the lack of any front speakers, there’s no sound imposer, meaning you hear an M engine playing its natural tune rather a digitally enhanced one. Other changes inside include lightweight door-cards from the GTS, a pair of manually adjustable lightweight sports seats and a steering wheel and centre-console trimmed in Alcantara.
All in all, there’s a 35kg weight saving, down to 1505kg compared to 1540kg for an M4 with an M DCT gearbox. The CS cracks 62mph in a claimed 3.9sec (two-tenths quicker than the DCT standard M4) and runs on to 174mph. And, of course, there’s a Ring lap time of 7min 38sec.
These numbers pale into the insignificant when it comes to the road, though, because whatever van Meel and his team have done to the underbelly of the CS, it has transformed the M4 from an unpredictable and ultimately frustrating performance car into one with all the character, ability and entertainment of M-cars of old. It’s how the CS reacts to your steering inputs that hits you first.
Where previous M4s have an uncomfortable dead spot and take a moment for the front tyres to react, the CS’s nose is rich in clarity, speed and precision, delivering instant confidence. The gripper Cup 2 tyres are an obvious factor in this, but the steering and setup changes allow you to commit harder because there’s a clearer sense of how the chassis is working beneath you.
Hooked into a corner, the CS feels much more stable and better balanced, the chassis allowing you to position it so much more accurately at the apex, get on the power earlier and work on your exit speed. With previous M4s this was always a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Too generous with your right foot and either the traction control went into hyperdrive or, if it was switched off, the rear tyres would vaporise. The car was as frustrating on the road as it was impressive for the cameras on track. That it also acted up when trying to put the power down in a straight line didn’t help it win friends, either.
In the CS there’s none of this. You can play the hooligan if you wish, but it’s so much more rewarding and satisfying to be able to open the throttle early in the corner and drive through the exit feeling the M-diff hook up and the chassis working the load with newfound precision.
Downsides? The #DCT gearbox now feels old in comparison to rivals and the brakes come up short, too. The standard cast-iron discs, with four-piston calipers at the front, two at the rear, are not a match for the car’s performance – it takes only a few committed stops for the pedal travel to lengthen, and while retardation doesn’t decline, the precision does. The optional carbon-ceramics help. There’s another issue. The £89,130 price tag is a £25k premium over a Competition Package, which makes it extremely hard to recommend the CS on price alone, despite it currently being the ultimate M4.
Below right: carbonceramic discs denoted by gold calipers – they’re expensive and not that easy to modulate, but are an improvement on the standard, cast-iron pieces; engine not quite in full firebreathing 493bhp GTS spec, but it is mightily potent even so.
‘The M4 CS has all the character and ability of M-cars of old’
TECHNICAL DATA FILE / SPECIFICATION #2017 / #BMW-M4-CS-F82 / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #BMW-F82 / #BMW / 2017 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #2017-BMW-M4-CS-F82
Engine In-line 6-cyl, 2979cc, twin-turbo
Power 454bhp @ 6250rpm DIN
Torque 442lb ft @ 4000-5380rpm DIN
0-62mph 3.9sec (claimed)
Top speed 174mph (limited)
Weight 1505kg (307bhp/ton)
Basic price £89,130
+ The M4 you can finally exploit and enjoy, no matter what the road or conditions
- At a price that could buy you a 911 Carrera SStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCLEAN BANDIT Styled and tuned F82 M4. SLICK M4 F82 with power and poise. Passion brought forth the assassin… Keren Zeng’s ingrained love for the BMW brand has helped him deliver a killer blow with this M4. Flawless victory! Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Kevin Uy.
Assassins come in many forms. Followers of classic Japanese folklore will be familiar with the concept of the ninja or shinobi, whose function was to act as a covert spy and saboteur. Fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series will know the assassins to be as gentlemanly and respected as they are deadly, fusing the cloaked secrecy of the ninja with the necessity to always leave their victims with a receipt.
And, of course, there’s the ragtag group of misfit assassins that this BMW M4 falls into; rubbing shoulders with James Bond and Liam Neeson, it’s the sort of character that’ll kick your door in, carry out the lethal task in broad daylight, utter a witty quip, shoot the cuffs on their impeccably tailored suit, and effect their graceful egress. Possibly leaping off a ledge and onto a plane or something.
This car could never be a shinobi. Look at it, it’s bright orange. But it does neatly intertwine the twin cannons of flawlessly sharp aesthetics and brutal firepower; a sublimely crafted art piece packing a horsepower figure that begins with a five. It’s primarily a functional thing, as evidenced by its gait being hunkered aggressively down rather than stylistically stanced, with the tyres displaying a usefully chunky spread of sidewall. But at the same time, its looks and sense of purpose are razor-edged. This is not a thing to be messed with, unless you’re planning on that being the last thing you ever do.
This creation is the vision-made-real of one Keren Zeng, proprietor of an automotive aftermarket shop in Victoria B.C, Canada, and lifelong BMW-fancier. “When I was in seventh grade I saw the E46 M3 on the cover of Need for Speed 9 for the first time, and I immediately fell in love with that car,” he says.
“Since then my dream machines have always been #BMW-M cars. And when the M4 came out, I placed an order without hesitation!” This long-held obsession is more than a videogame-induced fantasy, however. The passion runs somewhat deeper than that. “Owning a #BMW in my home country back when I was growing up was very, very hard,” he explains. “Not just because of the price, but also the limited availability. I loved to memorise all the car brands when I was little, and my father bought me all kinds of toy cars and asked me what models they were. I remember my favourite was the BMW 8 Series, which was a birthday gift from my father. And I was lucky enough to experience BMWs when I was a little older; at the age of 17 I drove my friend’s E92 M3, and I was totally blown away by the handling, the sound and the performance of the car. And from that time, BMW M cars have planted a very deep root in my heart.”
You see, this is no cynical tale of somebody throwing a bunch of money at an on-trend motor to win Instagram points, this is the culmination of a lifetime of aspirations and yearning. When Keren came to open up his Canadian business, the time was right to dive into the fragrantly alluring waters of M car ownership. Well, almost… he had a little practice with a 435i first.
“In 2013 in Montreal, I first saw a 435i in real life,” he breathlessly recalls. “I spied it at the downtown parking lot and the colour was Mineral grey – it immediately caught my attention; the shape of the car, the M badge just up the side vent, and the aggressive face. I told myself that one day I would own a car like this. And later that year, my dream came true.”
Neat use of ‘one day’ there, this is clearly a guy who likes to get things done with no time to shilly-shally. An Estoril blue example was bought, and duly subjected to KW coilovers, Vorsteiner wheels, Akrapovič exhaust, a feisty remap, and all the aero stuff in the M Performance catalogue. With this makeover successfully dealt with, Keren felt it was time to join the big leagues and really make that dream a reality. His name was inked on a shiny new M4’s pink slip, and the planets obligingly aligned.
“I had a pretty clear plan for the M4 from day one, based on what I’d learned from the 435i,” he explains, which makes perfect sense really. Combining age-old dreaming with first-hand experience tends to forge strong mental images. “My first set of wheels were BBS CI-Rs, powdercoated satin black. However, after having them for half a year I decided to go with HRE for its Forged series, choosing the Classic 300 – I respect classic cars and wanted to combine the retro with the modern, although in order to do so you can’t just put a classic rim on a new car, the colour choice has to be very careful. So I went with Dark Brushed Clear for the outer lip and barrel, and Satin Bronze for the face, both of which match perfectly with the Sakhir orange paint.”
In order to get the car sitting lower over these broad, chunky rims, Keren opted for Swift springs to work with the stock M4 dampers, keeping in mind that the car’s a daily driver and the factory chassis setup is already pretty mind-blowing. A set of Fall- Line Motorsports anti-roll bars found their way into the mix with the aim of making the car “track ready” (Keren’s words; he’s not playing games here), while the engine inhales and exhales a lot more freely thanks to an Eventuri cold air intake and full Akrapovič exhaust system, all remapped to make the most of those bonus horses. ETG’s clever ones-and-zeroes tuning is marketed as offering gains of 89hp and 96lb ft of torque over stock, which is certainly not to be sniffed at, and it also offers a bunch of boltons such as a speed limiter removal, transmission software and traction control reflashing, and even throttle-blipping and overrun exhaust popping. As you might imagine, Keren was pretty liberal with the box-ticking that day.
“I love clean cars, so when I choose the style of my car, I always believe that less is more,” he explains. “In order to match the body colour and details, all of my exterior pieces are carbon fibre. And the same goes for the interior – the carbon fibre upgrades are there to enhance the spirit of the M Performance brand rather than try to turn it into something else.” In addition to this OEM+ approach, there’s also been a fairly substantial input from iND, whose comprehensive range of aftermarket add-ons has been raided to yield such trophies as black kidney grilles, black boot badges, painted front reflectors to eliminate the garishness of the factory items, and painted side markers in the same vein. The overarching principle here is to hone and refine the cohesiveness of BMW’s own design and the M division’s enhancements to it; think of this car as being the next little step down the M4’s evolutionary path. “My favourite modifications are the wheels and the exhaust,” Keren continues.
“The way the HREs look and the way the Akrapovič sounds are just total eye and ear candies, it transforms the M4.” And all the while, as he gazes fondly over his creation, you can hear his brain ticking away, formulating new schemes and stratagems. It’s not finished, of course: “The orange turns so many heads, people are always taking photos of it,” he ponders. “I’m considering wrapping it in camo for the show season…”
Well, that’d certainly help the M4 to fulfil its destiny as a stealthy assassin. A sneakily applied camo would help it slither under the radar and carry out its evil deeds. As long as Keren doesn’t have the engine running, naturally – all that popping and crackling is a bit of a giveaway.
DATA FILE #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Akrapovic / #BMW-M4-M-DCT / #BMW-M4-M-DCT-F82 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #HRE-Classic / #HRE / #2017 / #Akrapovic
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six S55B30 / , #Akrapovič exhaust system, #ETG remap, #Eventuri intake, seven-speed M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #HRE-Classic-300 , 255/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Michelin Pilot Sport, #Fall-Line-Motorsports front and rear anti-roll bars, Swift springs
EXTERIOR Sakhir orange, #M-Performance rear spoiler, #RKP front lip, Kohlenstoff rear diffuser, #iND front painted reflectors, iND black grilles, iND painted trunk emblem, iND painted side markers
INTERIOR M Performance Alcantara steering wheel, #DCT console trim and DCT gear knob cover
THANKS Kevin King Uy for the photoshoot, Cat from iND for all the modifications, Kelvin from #ETG-Tuning-Group , #HRE , #Akrapovi , #BMW-Victoria , #KZ-Auto-GroupStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSecond Thoughts / Bidding a fond farewell to the Z4
The latest generation Z4 has quietly ended production but will the history books look kindly on the sexy Roadster? Time for a re-evaluation perhaps… Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.
A fond farewell to the misunderstood E89 generation Z4.
Over the years BMW’s Zed cars have had a little bit of a rocky relationship with the motoring press and while those actually buying BMW’s range of Roadsters have always seemed very keen on them the somewhat less than glowing press reports have tainted the reputation of many a Zed. It started so well, too, with the now iconic Z1 – a bespoke machine that looked like no other BMW – before or since – and while it might have been a limited production test bed for BMW’s Technik department it was met with almost universal praise. Those dropdown doors were pretty neat and its chassis was an absolute revelation and more or less the only mutterings from the press were directed at the fact that the chassis could cope with far more power than the E30 325i’s engine could muster.
In a way, perhaps, the Z1 set the tone for subsequent views on BMW Zeds – it set a pretty high bar for the cars that were to follow. The Z3 that arrived in the mid-1990s had an inordinately long gestation period and when it did arrive it didn’t receive universal praise. Sure, it looked good, but after the Z1’s stunning underpinnings the Z3 made do with an old E30 chassis and initially there was only a relatively wheezy four-cylinder engine under the bonnet. Owners absolutely loved the Z3, the press on the other hand were generally less kind, and with machinery like Mazda’s MX-5 showing what could be achieved with a cheeky little Roadster the Z3 looked and felt a little old hat.
All that was to change with the Z4 though. It hit the streets in 2003 and must be one of the finest examples of Chris Bangle’s ‘flame-surfacing’ school of design. It still looks pretty fresh today and in rangetopping 3.0i launch form it was also pretty rapid.
There were some mixed messages from #BMW at its launch, though, particularly the assertion that there would be no Coupé, M model or four-cylinder Z4s (all subsequently arrived in the showrooms), and while the Z4 might have had all the right ingredients it was almost as if BMW had got the blend just a little off. Don’t get me wrong – it was a fine car and I spent many happy hours at the wheel of the E85 generation of Z4 – but there was always a thorn in the side of the Z4 as it was Porsche Boxster-shaped.
The two cars were natural rivals even if Stuttgart’s offing was a little more expensive, but in terms of driving dynamics the Boxster had the BMW licked.
Which brings us to the most recent Zed, the E89 Roadster you can see here, and despite the fact that it still looks fresh and modern and very pretty to my eyes it’s already ended its production run. How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that it was being launched under a retractable folding hard-top fanfare. Yes, that was perhaps the biggest news for the E89 Z4 – no longer would it have a simple fabric hood – instead featuring a Mercedes SLK-esque folding hard-top. And it was the buyer of the SLK and the Audi TT that were the new Z4’s target audience with BMW aiming to produce a slightly less sporting but more refined Roadster – it was what its customers wanted, said BMW, after consulting with buyers of the previous generation of Z4. If you read between the lines of the press pack it was almost as if BMW was saying that it had tried to build a Boxster-beater, discovered it couldn’t so it went for a different demographic with its next Z4.
Initially there were three models to choose from, all under the sDrive banner – 23i, 30i and 35i – with the two former models using different versions of BMW’s sublime naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre straight-six while the 35i packed a 306hp turbocharged punch from its 335i-derived powerplant. As with the E85 BMW was adamant that there would be no four-cylinder model, no coupé and no M Power model. This time it kept good on its promise on two out of three of those pledges as an four-pot did eventually arrive as BMW moved away from the naturally aspirated ‘six to turbocharged ‘fours.
Having said there was no M model, the machine we have in front of us here today was as close as BMW came to endowing the Zed with M Power as this is the range-topping 35iS that made its debut in 2010. It was tantalisingly close to being an M as it featured the 340hp engine from the 1M Coupé coupled to a DCT transmission and blistering straightline grunt – 0-62mph was knocked off in a very M-like 4.8 seconds. Its vital stats and almost-an-Mpowerplant seduced me into thinking this would be a real ripsnorting performer but when I returned from driving the 35iS for the very first time I felt that while the engine and drivetrain were sublime there was definitely something missing in the chassis stakes. Time for a revaluation then.
I’ll make no bones about the fact that I love the way the Z4 looks – sharp styling, classic BMW Roadster proportions and bucket loads of presence. The front end has something of a Great White shark about it, making the previous model look soft and apologetic. It also looks good with the roof in place as it reaches far back along the rear deck to almost give it a coupé silhouette.
Inside, the premium quality feel goes a step further with excellent materials and superb fit and finish. There are some pleasant swoops and shapes to the dash and centre console while the design is modern, fresh and ergonomically sound. As you’d expect from a BMW, the minor controls all work very well with a deliberate action, although it has to be said that the heating and ventilation controls take a little getting used to as they’re unlike just about any other BMW you’d care to mention with their round dials and combination of rotary knobs and push buttons.
There’s significantly more room in this model than the E85 generation and there’s a modicum of more space for oddments, too. Overall, it’s a fine cabin, a great place in which to spend time, and perfectly in tune with the Z4’s new found touring credentials.
Whereas the previous model was stiffly sprung and edgy when driven hard, this generation was engineered to offer a much more refined driving experience. It was a step change that sat very well with the more spacious cabin and larger dimensions, confirming BMW had GT, rather than more overtly sporting aspirations for this car. That would explain the comfortable ride, the engine pulling barely 2500rpm at motorway speeds and the clever folding hard-top roof. That roof is a two-piece unit, operated electrohydraulically in 20 seconds and while it offers great all-season use it did significantly eat a big chunk of the generous boot space with it stowed.
As a cruiser the Z4 really was an excellent piece of kit but despite going softer with the E89, BMW still very much talked about this car in sporting terms so we need to see what happens when you tackle some challenging roads.
Build the pace up gently. The roof is down and the sun is beaming. It might be cold outside but with the heater and bum-warmers cranked up the cockpit is nice and snug. With each up-change of the dual-clutch gearbox, the exhaust blasts out a glorious parp, howling as the revs rise. At six-tenths pace and with those factors in place, the Z4 makes for an ideal companion, a fine tool for reminding yourself of the joys of relaxed motoring.
The Z4 has both Adaptive M Sport suspension and #Dynamic-Drive control and we opt for Sport Plus and manual mode on the #DCT ‘box for a spirited drive. On tricky roads, the steering wheel paddles are very welcome indeed, allowing you to change gear without taking your hands off the wheel. Ultimately, they help you to concentrate on lines, braking points and turn-in speeds, allowing you to carry more pace than a Hpattern manual would. The speed of the changes both up and down the ‘box also allows you to make rapid fire decisions as the corners approach ever faster, so you never find yourself out of the power band. Through the corners the steering takes on a weighting that feels pretty good, allowing you to place the car smartly, but there aren’t quite the levels of feedback we’d like from a truly sporting machine. With that long bonnet slung out in front of you the front end can feel a long way away. Quick direction changes reveal inertia to the front end, which just needs a moment to settle before committing to the next steering input. That makes for a degree of lethargy that inhibits your ultimate pace a touch, and encourages you to back off a little to avoid demanding too much of the car, and to allow you to keep things tidy.
In full attack mode, the Z4 begins to reveal its mass, with its hefty 1580kg kerb weight causing the body to lurch into corners. There is plenty of grip from the front end though, and the rear will step aside slightly under power to help keep the nose in check through the corner exit. The seats offer plenty of torso support, but the thigh support is lacking. That means you find yourself forcing your knees against the door and centre console, which will have them aching before long.
This engine is a familiar one, and it suits the Z4 very well. The twin-turbos give it a very useful spread of power and torque, but it’s the lowdown delivery of twist that’s most welcome. It punts the Z4 down a road very quickly indeed from low revs, but doesn’t respond to a hammering like a naturally aspirated unit would. If driven with some care, you can even squeeze close to 30mpg from it.
Dynamically the Z4 might not be the last word in pin-sharp handling, but that’s almost forgetting that this generation of Z4 was never meant to be an out-and- out sports car. Treat it more in the manner in which #BMW intended as a sporting #Roadster with GT pretensions and you’ll get on far better with the Z4 than if you drive it everywhere with your pants on fire. It doesn’t take long to work out that the Z4 doesn’t respond to a full-on thrashing, so by working it to eight-tenths and by driving smoothly, it flows down the road at impressive pace with composure. Sure, some other cars thrive on those further two-tenths of effort and commitment, and would tackle each corner slightly faster, but they wouldn’t offer anywhere near the same levels of comfort and refinement for the rest of the time.
If you’re happy to accept that then the Z4 is a stunning piece of kit. It looks utterly beguiling even now after it’s been with us for seven years and with a superb cockpit and build quality it’s an excellent second-hand proposition today. Don’t be fooled into thinking you need to buy the range-topper – great though it is – as if you accept you’re not going to be driving it at ten-tenths the whole time one of the lower-powered machines should do just as well. The four-cylinder cars are good, but we’d probably opt for one of the normally aspirated straight-sixes. Plenty of pace and a stunning soundtrack – what’s not to like? For many buyers the original Z4 used to be too hard, too small and too snappy, the E89 is an altogether more refined Roadster, and offers a depth of talent that wasn’t equalled in its class. The only question that remains is to wonder in which direction BMW will go with the next Z4? We can’t wait to find out.
THANKS: Vines of Gatwick for the loan of its pristine Z4
Tel: 01293 611117
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-E89 / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35iS / #BMW-Z4-sDrive35iS-E89 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW / #BMW-Z-Series / #BMW-Z-Series-E89 /
ENGINE: Straight-six, twin-turbo, 24-valve
MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5900rpm
MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @ 1500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
PRICE (OTR): £44,220 / $59,250 ( #2010 UK / USA)
The Z4’s cockpit was excellent although heater controls and electronic handbrake took a little getting used to.
Working it to eight-tenths and by driving smoothly, it flows down the road at impressive pace with composure.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationMild-mannered 120d transformed into #V8-powered 1M Monster.
SMASHING! Body shock!
What started out life as a humble #BMW-120d is now unrecognisable following its transformation into an awesome V8-powered 1M, finished in Java green and with an M DCT gearbox. From mild-mannered 120d to hulking V8-powered 1M, this 1 Series has undergone an incredible transformation and the results are astonishingly spectacular. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Matt Woods.
Subtle is fine. Subtle works when you just want to get on with stuff discreetly, blending into the background and going unnoticed and unbothered. But sometimes, you need to be unsubtle. Sometimes you need something to wake you up from the dull, grey drudgery of life. Sometimes you need a Java green V8-powered smack in the mouth. That time is now.
One might argue that Nina Barber’s 1M is subtle; there is, for example, no wild wing, no outrageous wheels, no vents or bulges beyond those which the 1M was created with, and even the exhaust is surprisingly civil. But a 1M finished in shocking green, and it really is very green, with a V8 numberplate is car that wears its heart on its sleeve. And we’re all for that.
Nina is a woman who grew up in an environment filled with people passionate about cars, so it’s easy to how she’s ended up here, talking to us about her V8 1M. “I started to become passionate about cars in my early 20s,” she says. “My uncle races Porsches, my dad has always been into Lamborghinis and American muscle cars, and my mum has always had BMWs – which is what got me into the marque. She had an E30 when I was born followed by some M models. I remember the first time I drove a BMW, her BMW, I felt at home and knew that’s where I belonged. My first BMW was a 130i, which replaced an MX-5. That was a lot of fun to drive but I wanted more power and speed and after driving my mum’s 130i I knew I had to have one. After the 130i I bought a Z4 M, a car I’d always wanted as whilst I was growing up my mum owned a Roadster. It was very nice but compromised. So I started thinking about what to get next?
An S54 Z3 M or E46 M3 CSL? Maybe, but prices were so high and you can’t put miles on those cars without harming their value, and while I’ve always loved the E92 M3 I prefer smaller cars…” We think you can see where this is going.
“I followed Sebastian online. He owned the blue V8 1M that Ashley at Quarry Motors had built and originally owned, and I realised that was the car I wanted. I approached him about buying it and it turned out he was emigrating so it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to try and arrange a sale and it fell through but a friend of mine knew the guys at Quarry so approached them on my behalf to see if they’d be willing to build another V8 1M. I travelled up to Sheffield, met Ashley, had a chat and decided on the spot to go ahead with the project.” For this build, Nina was very specific about what she wanted, a fullyloaded car with DCT. The following day, the perfect M3 donor car showed up on Quarry’s doorstep. The planets had aligned…
The car you see before you started out life as a 120d; the original Quarry car was built from a written-off 118d, but Nina wanted hers to be built from a straight car and it was actually sourcing the right 1 Series to build on that took some time. The entire project was handled by Ashley at Quarry from start to finish, leaving Nina to concentrate on working out the particulars.
The most stressful part of the whole build was trying to decide on a colour. “I’ve never been so indecisive about anything in my life!” she exclaims. “I must have changed my mind about 20 times. Initially I considered a Lamborghini colour, then a Porsche colour, but then I decided I wanted a BMW colour. For ages I was set on Taiga green but after seeing James’ Java green M4 at a show I instantly knew that was the colour I wanted.
Taiga is nice but it’s paler and is better suited to a boxy classic car. Java is perfect for a modern shape like the 1 Series and really suits the car.” She’s not wrong, as that intense Java is a full-on smack in the mouth, an eye-widening shot of sheer colour. And in the sunlight it’s even more fantastic, the colour drenching the bodywork and accentuating all of the curves. And there are a lot of those to accentuate on a 1M.
The colour was the inspiration behind the car’s name, by which it is best known on social media. “I wanted to name it and was talking to Ashley about it when he suggested Bruce, as in Bruce Banner, the Hulk’s alter ego. I love this concept, the dichotomy of character, and it ties in with the green colour, so it was perfect.”
While Bruce was being constructed, it also gave Nina the opportunity to finalise her pans for the interior: “I had considered different colours like red and tan, but then I wouldn’t have been able to do the green accent stitching that I’ve got now. It really lifts the interior, as without it I was worried it would all be too dark.” B-Trim in north London handled all the interior work and the end result is fantastic, the black being the perfect partner for that vibrant green, both inside and out, and the colour-coded detailing is the perfect finishing touch. The door panels, instrument binnacle, which houses the E9x M3 dials, and steering wheel have all been wrapped in Alcantara and both the heated front seats, plucked straight from the M3, and rear seats have Alcantara accent strips. The gear selector and start button surrounds have been finished in Java green and so too have the extended aluminium gearshift paddles on the steering wheel and even the seatbelts are green, while the carbon trim echoes the carbon elements on the exterior. “I didn’t want a half-done interior,” says Nina. “I decided to go all-out and do it right first time. It was the same with the whole car. It had to be complete out-of-the-box. I didn’t want people to see a half-finished car so I made sure everything was done in one go.”
Of course it’s the 1M body conversion that really takes centre stage here and you have to appreciate just how much work has gone in to transforming this car from humble 120d to fully-fledged performance monster. “My criteria for the build was that the car had to be executed as if BMW had built it,” Nina explains. “I can’t stand it when people do things by halves. For me it has to be done properly. The rear arches, for example, aren’t welded on; they’re complete new rear quarter sections, which is exactly the way BMW would have built the car and exactly how I wanted it to be built.” Indeed, the quality of Quarry’s work really is exceptional. There is absolutely no way that you’d be able to tell that this car had ever been anything other than a 1M. It really is perfect. The muscular styling is further enhanced by the addition of a BMW M Performance carbon bootlip spoiler and that unmistakable M3 power bulge bonnet. “I knew I had to have the power bulge bonnet,” says Nina. “It changes the whole look of the car for me, so I went for a Seibon carbon one designed specifically for the 1M. It’s fully functional, just like the M3 bonnet would be, so the offside vent is blocked off while the nearside vent connects up to the air box as a secondary cold air feed. The bonnet latches down like the standard one, but the problem is that the carbon is so much more flexible than the steel bonnet. The first time I drove it the bonnet was flexing so much at motorway speeds that I knew immediately I had to add some AeroCatches. Fitting them was tricky as the bonnet is curved and you want them to sit flush rather than sticking up, but they look perfect and really keep the bonnet down. The fitment of the carbon bonnet isn’t perfect, though, and I would love to have a metal one made but it would have to be aluminium. The standard M3 bonnet is steel and I really don’t know why BMW didn’t use a lightweight bonnet; I’ve saved quite bit of weight with the carbon bonnet so I wouldn’t want to go for a steel one, especially as the S65 V8 is just 7kg heavier than the N54 but actually sits lower down and further back in the chassis giving the car better weight distribution.
“When it came to the wheels I did consider a few different designs but the Style 359 is my favourite BMW wheel, so that’s what I went with. I think this style of wheel looks fantastic on a modern car and really finishes it off, so the wheels are definitely staying for now,” she says. “I might change the colour as I’m not sure about the black but it does look good against the green and ties in nicely with the black accents on the body. I’ve currently got the standard size tyres, 245/35 and 265/35 Toyo R888s, but I’d like to go to a 265/295 front/rear setup as they’ll really fill the arches out and I don’t want to use spacers to achieve that.”
If you own a V8 it’s pretty much the law that you have to fit a performance exhaust because it’s an engine that never sounds anything less than fantastic. And Nina’s 1M definitely doesn’t disappoint on the aural stimulation front. “I didn’t want to go all-out with an off-the-shelf exhaust as I’d like a custom system at some point, but I still wanted something that sounded good,” says Nina. “At the moment it’s running a Milltek 1M rear silencer, which has been designed for a turbocharged engine rather than a naturally aspirated V8, along with some M3 sections and a bit of custom pipework to connect it all together. I did have it fully de-catted at one point and I loved how obnoxiously loud it was, but it absolutely stank of fuel and after every drive the exhaust tips were black. I got fed up with it and had the cats put back in; while it’s definitely quieter the tone is nicer now and I prefer the way it sounds. I would still like a full system at some point but I’m content for the time being.” It does sound absolutely fantastic, with a boisterous cold idle that is guaranteed to slap a grin on your face, but delivers a surprisingly civilised soundtrack once it’s warmed-up. Of course, at full chat it delivers exactly the sort of spine-tingling, high-revving V8 howl that you want, overlaid with numerous pops and crackles. It’s Mozart for the motorhead.
Even now, nine years on since its debut in the E9x M3, the S65 V8 is still an absolute masterpiece of an engine. “I love the power delivery,” grins Nina as we indulge in a long chat about V8s. “It really does pull like a train. I love the way the power delivery is so linear and the way the power just keeps on coming once you’re at the top end of the rev range. Mine is very healthy. I’ve heard that a lot of M3s don’t even make 400hp on the dyno but mine made 426hp without the cats, so it’s probably around the 420 mark now.
As far as the gearbox is concerned, I’ve always been a manual enthusiast but I decided to drive both a manual and DCT M3 to see what the engine and gearbox combination felt like and I have to say that the manual car did nothing for me. The way the engine delivers its power means that the DCT ’box just feels so much better suited to it. I’m so glad I went for the DCT, I absolutely love the gearbox and the combination with the S65 is just perfect.”
To you or us the car might look as complete as can be but for Nina this is only the beginning of her 1M adventure. “It was a year long journey to get to the car built,” she says, “and I finished in January of this year.
However, for the last six months I’ve been refining and tweaking it and there’s still lots more I want to do. I’m planning to add a carbon race diffuser and front lip as well as a carbon roof, which I feel the factory 1M should have come with, like the M3. The suspension isn’t finished at the moment; it’s currently on M3 EDC shocks with Eibach springs. I like how it sits but I would like coilovers at some stage. I’m not sure what to go for, though, and I don’t want to just buy something that might not be right for it. I’m going to spend the coming months, the whole year even, learning the car, educating myself on what it wants before buying anything so I know I’ll be fitting the right parts when the time comes. I also love motorsport and while the car has started its journey like this it will evolve as time goes on, so I might well strip it and put a cage in it at some point. I’ll probably add a wing then as well. I would also really like to supercharge it at some point but at the same time I want to refine it first, make it the best it can be in its current form before I start doing any power upgrades. I do love the fact that the car will continue to evolve. That keeps me enthusiastic about it and ensures it doesn’t get stale.”
Which brings us neatly to the question of how long Nina thinks this relationship will last, though we feel bad asking the question seeing as the car’s such a recent build. “At the moment it really does feel like it’s a forever car,” she says. “I have so much time, effort, and emotion invested in it that I can’t ever imagine selling it. I don’t even want to think about that. From the moment the car was finished people started getting in touch asking if I would sell it. I’ve had so many people asking me about buying it that I’ve lost count. Initially I was a bit offended; I couldn’t believe that people would think I’d want to sell a car I’d just finished.”
While there might be lots more to come, there’s plenty to enjoy right now and that’s exactly what this car was built for. “This car was all about doing something purely for my own enjoyment. I didn’t want to worry about mileage, money or depreciation, I just wanted to build a car that I could go and enjoy driving. And that’s exactly what I’ve got. I do drive it based on the weather as I don’t want to take it out in the rain. So it’s a fair weather weekend toy for me and as it’s just been finished I am precious over it. I hate getting stone chips on it, though the whole front end has been covered in Suntek paint protection film so it’s not too bad. I guess it’s just inevitable. I have lots of plans, too. I want to take it to Europe. I’m currently looking for places to go and enjoy driving it,” grins Nina. That’s really what it’s all about. You don’t build a car like this to only hide it away or simply park it up at shows for other people to enjoy. You build it to enjoy driving it and there are few machines out there capable of delivering greater driving pleasure than a V8 1M.
DATA FILE #V8 #BMW-1M / #BMW / #BMW-E82 / #BMW-1-Series-E82 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1M-E82 / #BMW-E82-S65B40 / #BMW-1M-S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 / #BMW-E82-V8 / #BMW-Style-359-Competition / #BMW-1M-M-DCT / #BMW-120d-E82 /
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre V8 #S65B40 from E92 M3, 1M #Milltek back box, part custom and part OEM M3 exhaust system, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox from E92 M3
CHASSIS 9x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) #BMW-Style-359 Competition alloys with 245/35 (front) and 265/35 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, E92 M3 brakes with Java green calipers (front and rear), E92 M3 EDC with #Eibach springs
EXTERIOR Full OEM 1M conversion, full bare shell respray in Individual Java green metallic, gloss black trim, Seibon carbon fibre bonnet with AeroCatches, BMW M Performance carbon fibre bootlip spoiler, Blackline rear lights, Suntek paint protection film
INTERIOR Full retrim consisting of extended black Nappa leather with green stitching and Alcantara accents, Alcantara gear selector, handbrake gaiters and door cards, steering wheel retrimmed in Alcantara with Motorsport stiching and green 12 o’clock centre stripe, extended aluminium paddles in Java green metallic with illuminated plus and minus signs, Java green start button bezel, #Java-green #DCT gear selector surround, heated E92 M3 front seats, BMW Performance carbon fibre trim, #BMW-Individual audio with #Harman-Kardon speakers
THANKS A massive thank you to Quarry Motors, especially Ashley and Lee for agreeing to take on this project with me. Ashley is responsible for building me a spectacular, unique car that has been executed as if #BMW itself built it. Sam for initially sowing the seed and getting the ball rolling. To my biggest support, I must extend huge gratitude to Nick who has been my anchor throughout this journey. My mum who gracefully endured my countless indecisions. To all my great friends who have offered their support and advice, I thank you; Silas ‘Mr B’, Vaughan the Prawn, Richard and Sebastian with Bruce’s twin ‘the blue car’, Steven ‘Horney’, Paul ‘Mumbers’, Kos, Mason, Marsel and the rest of my big BMW family. B-Trim, Elite Car Care, Evolve Automotive, Mox3d, Mumbray Motorsport, Munich Evolution, Munich Legends, Olgun Kordal – The Car Photographer, Pukar Designs, Royal Steering Wheels, Secure My Car and SMV Repairs, Taylor Made Decals
Java green is stunning and really suits the perfectlyexecuted 1M conversion, while the glorious #S65-V8 is the icing on the cake.
“I love the power delivery. It really does pull like a train. I love the way it is so linear and the power just keeps on coming”
“My criteria for the build was that the car had to be executed as if BMW had built it”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTHE SECOND COMING
Can the M2 deliver the same sheer driving thrills as the 1M? There’s only one way to find out… The 1M rocked everyone’s world and now the M2 has descended from the heavens to deliver the people from mid-range performance mediocrity Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: #BMW
When it was launched back in 2011, the 1M cost about £40,000; now, five years on, a 1M costs around… £40,000. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how popular the limited production hot coupé was, and still is.
While BMW ended up producing rather a lot more cars than the 2700 it initially planned on, with a total of 6309 examples sold worldwide in the end, there were just 450 right-hand drive examples, which is at least part of the reason why second-hand prices remain so incredibly high. The other reason is that it was an absolutely awesome car; the press went mad for it, with praise being heaped on the car for delivering a driving experience akin to the E30 M3, albeit in a more modern guise. The 1M was snapped up by performance-hungry punters, delivered thrills to the chosen few and then it left us, and left us wanting. The 135i was good and the M135i and M235i, now the M140i and M240i, were even better but none of them delivered the same full-on, whiteknuckle driving experience that only a fullyfledged M car can. But now, all that changes with the arrival of the M2.
First impressions couldn’t be better. It looks absolutely awesome, especially finished in lush and lustrous Long Beach blue, and I actually came out of the office to find one of my colleagues humping the back end of the test car we had in. Genuinely. The styling is on point, with those pumped up arches giving it an almost cartoonishly wide stance. Then you’ve got that swoopy and super aggressive front bumper, the surprisingly good-looking wheels and those shiny quad pipes at the back. It’s not the last word in finesse or delicacy, but it looks so right. The interior, nice as it is, has been singled out by pretty much everyone as a source of disappointment, and, sadly, we have to agree. It looks and feels good but what it doesn’t feel is special; the seats are identical to those in any 1 or 2 Series M Sport model, as is the steering wheels and gear knob. In fact, that only things that set the M2 apart from its lesser brethren are the suede gear knob gaiter and the interior trim, and that’s it. The seats are comfy and grippy, the steering wheel is the perfect size and the gear knob, so reminiscent of the E46 Sport’s example, fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, but, aside from the M2 logo that flashes up on the instrument cluster display when you get into the car, there’s nothing to remind you that you’ve just splashed out £45,000 on what’s meant to be a full-blown M car.
It’s not a deal breaker, though. Fire up the M2 and it barks into life with a pleasing flourish of noise from those quad pipes and the noisy cold idle gives way to a more neighbour-friendly purr once the engine has warmed up. Noise plays a big part of the buying/owning/driving experience for any car enthusiast and here the M2 excels; where the switch from V8 to straight-six resulted in the F8x M3 and M4 sounding loud, blaring and angry but not especially sexy or alluring, the six-cylinder soundtrack is the perfect fit for the M2. The volume level is spot-on: it’s quieter than the S55 in the M3 and M4, but the engine and exhaust notes also sound more natural and pleasant as a result. It’s a lovely straight-six howl, well-rounded and, based on the soundtrack, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it was turbocharged if you didn’t know.
For the M2, BMW has turned the wick up on the single-turbo N55 further still and it’s now putting out the sort of power and torque levels you’d expect from a remapped 35i. It now makes 370hp and 343lb ft of torque, 369 on overboost, enough for a 0-62 sprint of 4.5 seconds for the manual and 4.3 seconds for DCT-equipped cars, and the top speed is obviously limited to 155mph. The engine is very strong in the mid-range, with a big hit of torque right where you want it, but it loves to rev and to get the best out of it you really need to take each gear right to the upper reaches of the rev range.
It never feels poop-your-pants fast, despite its impressive and, let’s not forget, E9x M3-beating-on-paper acceleration figures, but it’s as fast as you’d ever need a car to be and there’s no situation where you’ll find yourself wishing you had more power. It’s not as fast as the F8x M3 or M4, which feel ballistic, but with less power it’s actually better to drive.
Firstly, and quite importantly, it delivers a far more analogue driving experience than most modern machinery; there’s no variable steering, no adjustable damping, no multiple modes and settings that need to be explored and examined before you can actually start driving the thing. The only thing you need to do is put it in Sport mode to sharpen up the throttle response, then decide how much traction control you want and you’re ready.
Where the M3 and M4 struggle with traction even in ideal conditions, the M2 has no such trouble and, full-throttle first gear launches aside, it puts the power down without any fuss. It also flows beautifully when piloted along a fast, empty stretch of Tarmac and delivers real driving thrills, the sort that get your heart pumping and spread a broad grin across your face. It also feels incredibly planted; the suspension is firm, yes, but it’s incredibly well damped and is never upset by bumps and undulations in the road. It feels like it’s really attached to the road rather than about to go skipping off into a hedge when the going gets rough. The M2 is a really good car. It looks and feels fantastic to drive, is as quick as you could ever want a car to be, sounds good, delivers genuine driving thrills and does it all whilst costing over £10k less than an M4 and delivering a better driving experience. It really is about as good as it gets.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F87 / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F87 / #2016 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, optional seven-speed #M-DCT / #DCT / #BMW-DCT /
WEIGHT (EU) 1570kg (1595*)
MAX POWER 370hp @ 6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 343 (369) lb ft @ 1400-5560rpm
0-62MPH 4.5 (4.3*)
TOP SPEED 155mph (limited)
EMISSIONS (CO²) 199g/km (185*)
FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 33.2 (35.8*)
PRICE (OTR) £44,070
(*) denotes M DCT transmission
“It looks absolutely awesome especially finished in lush Long Beach blue”Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationGOING ON TOUR
BMW never made an #BMW-E91 M3 Touring, so this owner decided to build his own… BMW never built an E91 M3 Touring, but if it did, it’d probably look just like this… only not as low and on smaller wheels! Words: Andy Basoo. Photos: Antony Fraser.
It was back on the 22 February 2011 the euphoria started, at 1.15pm to be precise. A build thread began on the popular M3Post forum, which within a matter of days had 35,000 views from around the globe. A dozen or so photos and a handful of words was all it took to spark such excitement; the BMW community was witnessing something special.
The username was #63NP. The thread topic: ‘!!E91 M3 V8 DCT Estate / Wagon Full Conversion..!!’. We don’t need to tell you that BMW never built an E91 M3 Touring. In fact, the German manufacturer has never built an M3 Touring full stop. Coupés, Saloons and Cabriolets yes, but never a Touring. And that’s somewhat surprising considering how much we love estate cars here in the UK. The Audi RS4 has never struggled for sales and the majority of examples you see on the road are wagons. If Audi can make it work, why can’t BMW?
To be fair, BMW has tried its hand at highperformance estate cars in the past. The E34 and E61 M5s were available in Touring format, and BMW even tested the water with the E39, building a one-off Touring version.
They just weren’t big sellers though. It’s difficult to pin down exactly why not, but they didn’t capture the imagination of the public. Maybe it was because they didn’t look different enough from any other M Sportkitted model? The RS4 is wide, beefy, has distinctive aluminium mirrors and looks like it’s on steroids, while the M5s of the past have been much more understated.
The 5 Series was also significantly larger and perhaps that’s where the downfall lay? Audi produced a larger RS6, too, and while it’s admittedly a fine machine in its own right, it was never the big seller like the RS4. So maybe 3 Series Touring M cars would have been the way to go? Nicholas Pritchard (aka 63NP), the man who instigated that build thread certainly seems to think so, hence the reason he’s built his own example. And before we go any further, let us tell you, it’s truly OEM quality in its execution.
Nick’s a heavy goods vehicle driver and has always had a thing for estate cars. “I’ve had loads,” he confesses. “I’ve had a B7 RS4, an E61, an E36 and an E30 – that I fitted Montego Countryman roof rails to because the E30 never came with roof rails! I even had a Rover 400 estate. I just like estates!” Which is why when he saw this one, he simply had to have it.
“I was doing a 997 Porsche at the time,” he continues. “This was back in 2009. I used to pop down to a local bodyshop from time to time to see a mate of mine. The owner of the bodyshop had this car tucked away in the corner and covered in dust. It didn’t have any wings or doors or an interior. It was just a shell, although it did have an M3 V8 sitting in the bay but it wasn’t running.”
Nick was interested and asked the owner if it was for sale. He got a firm “no” in reply. The car was a 2007 318i auto, although the original engine and transmission were nowhere to be seen. The cabin was filled to the roof with parts and the wiring loom was in a heap in the corner of the bodyshop.
“Are you sure it’s not for sale?” Nick persisted. “Quite sure, thank you very much,” came the response.
Bearing in mind it was 2009 and this was a #2007 Touring, it was a relatively new car to be chopping about as extensively as this one had been. Not many of us would have the confidence to be so brutal to a BMW that was barely run-in. Nick was so taken with the car that he would drop in occasionally and the two would have the same brief but very polite conversation.
“I noticed towards the end of the year, that the guy’s enthusiasm for the car was waning,” Nick explains, “so at the start of 2010 I asked him again, and amazingly he said ‘yes’. He’d been slowly building it up, so by the time I got it the panels were back on and an M3 interior in it, but it still wasn’t running. I think one of the guys down there had put a jump pack on it to get it started, but a power surge had fried the ECU and a few other things. I would say it was probably three-quarters complete.”
The previous owner had sourced the V8 from a donor car, an E90 M3 Saloon LCI with a slick DCT gearbox. Amazingly, the platforms of the Saloon and Touring are virtually identical. In fact, from the nose right the way back to part way down the rear doors is the same. The rear ends of the rear doors are a slightly different shape to conform to the different boot layout. But apart from that, the layouts remain the same. So, despite there being countless views and rumours about the complexity of an E91 M3 conversion, it’s actually pretty straight forward.
The donor car had been stripped. We mean, completely stripped down to its shell. Engine, gearbox, prop, body panels, interior, dash the lot. The same had then been done with the Touring. As you’d expect, priority had been given to the fitment of the M3’s beautiful 4.0-litre 32v V8 ( #S65B40 ) and its #DCT gearbox. It’s hard to comprehend and perhaps it sounds like we’re dumbing the process down, but there was no fabrication or adjustment made to any brackets. Using the S65’s OEM mounts, the V8 slotted easily in to place, the gearbox aligned perfectly, too, as did the driveshafts and propshaft, and all bolted straight in.
Even the standard Saloon exhaust system fitted. All that the previous owner had to do was to add two thread bolts for the rear box hangers, readily available from BMW, and the quad exhaust sat perfectly.
With the intention being to swap over and utilise every possible optional extra fitted to the M3 donor car, the complete Saloon wiring loom, fuse box and dash were fitted. This meant the all-important iDrive system was also available to the driver.
Regarding the body panels, the complete front end is M3 Saloon. The front bumper, kidney grilles, vented bonnet, and wider front arches were all bolted straight on, and the shut lines matched perfectly. Obviously, a wider front end meant the Touring’s original undertrays and arch liners no longer fitted, so these had been swapped over from the M3, too. Incidentally, before the all of the panels were fitted, the V8’s ancillaries had all been set in their rightful place, including the relevant coolers and bottles being placed in the wings. The goal had been to make this car as OEM as possible.
As you can imagine, this was harder to achieve at the rump end of the Touring. With the car having a wider track, the rear arches needed widening, so M3 Saloon rear quarters had been grafted in and expertly reshaped to meet the lines of the Touring.
The rear bumper is a combination of M3 Saloon and M Sport Touring. It would have been easier to modify an estate bumper, but the previous owner aimed at retaining as much M3 styling as possible, and as such the central vent, angles and lines had all been adopted from the Saloon parts.
Inside the cabin, the Touring’s carpet and panoramic roof had been retained as neither of these were available in M3 guise, but just about everything else you can see and touch is M3 Saloon. Even the rear bench bolted straight in. The rear seat back, however, is Touring, well… kind of. The seat foam had been reshaped to fit and match the bench, and then M3 Saloon covers added.
It was in this overall state that Nick bought the car. “As I said, it was about three-quarters complete when I got it,” he continues. “He’d done a great job. But, obviously the car wasn’t running and it felt tired and a little loose.
So the first thing Nick did was to order a new ECU and cache unit from BMW. After sorting the coding, to his joy the V8 barked into life, enabling Nick to turn his attentions to tightening the whole car up. “There were so many little things that needed sorting,” he explains. “I half stripped the car back down again. As I said, it didn’t feel tight. Things like the doorcards felt a bit loose, some of the trim was slightly squeaky, that kind of thing. As I was taking it apart, I started noticing that a lot of the clips were missing or broken. Some of the trim was scratched or damaged, the screws didn’t match, as you’d expect I guess. That’s what happens when you take a car apart.
“For me though, the whole point of the car was for it to be OEM quality, so I ordered about £1000 worth of clips, screws and trim from BMW. I’ve also got a friend who works in a BMW dismantlers and he was able to help me out with various other parts that were missing or damaged. Things like the membranes in the doors weren’t sealed, so they would have leaked and filled with water if I didn’t seal them. Essentially, the car needed finishing. The bulk of the work was done, but I think it’d been rushed back together when the guy lost interest.”
Nick has therefore invested heavily in transforming this car from the one that he bought. He primarily concentrated on the chassis, replacing the Touring’s factory-fit suspension with a full set of top-spec Variant 3 KW coilovers. He then ordered a set of gorgeous 20” Breyton Race GTS RM forged wheels to tuck under the wide arches, with M3 offsets, of course. Sizeable 9.5x20” wheels fill the fronts, shod in 245/30 Continentals, with broader 10x20” versions out back wrapped in 285/25 rubber by the same brand. He’s is considering nudging the front suspension down just a fraction more, but we have to say the E91 sits beautifully.
Nick then approached Reyland Motorsport for help sorting the front brakes. “I sourced a set of six-pot Brembo calipers from a C63 Mercedes,” he relates. “They’re basically the same as the BMW Performance calipers, just with different mounts on the back. I dropped them off at Reyland along with an M3 suspension leg so they could get all the brackets right and come up with suitable discs and pads. They used 380mm discs in the end and had my car in for a few days fitting everything up and testing it for me. All the brake warning sensors are still connected and functioning. I want to get a kit for the back now.”
We could go on all day about the fact Nick’s retained the Touring’s loom from the rear doors back because certain things are wired differently; how he’s removed individual pins from the loom plugs to ensure nothing is in place that isn’t needed; how he’s retro-fitted a CIC sat nav system that now runs ‘DVD in Motion’; details of the countless trips to the bodyshop to have blemishes removed, lines redefined and exhaust tips powdercoated in black; and why he’d only settle for BMW Performance front seats, but hopefully by now you’ve realised what an exceptional build this is.
Learning how identical the platforms are, it would appear relatively straightforward to swap all the parts across from one car to another. And to his credit, the previous owner has done phenomenally well in doing just that, but it’s finishing the job properly that takes time and patience to get right, and Nick has those qualities in abundance.
Without his input, this would feel like a fast, yet slightly tired, rattly estate. Thanks to Nick’s input it now possess a true OEM quality. It feels like a genuine M3 with full M car pedigree, not simply a modified 3 Series and that’s a difficult feat to achieve. Despite the photos posted on M3Post, some members still questioned whether or not this car was real, and demanded further evidence. Even the official #BMW staff and technicians at Nick’s local dealer were left puzzled when he first popped in to pick up a few parts. Other impressive E91 Tourings have been built around the world and yet more are in the pipeline, but Nick’s M3 converted example is by far the most wellknown.
Over 100,000 views of his build thread prove that. If you get the opportunity to see this machine in the flesh try and find fault with it. After we spent the day with car, we can assure you, you won’t find any.
DATA FILE #BMW-M3-Touring / #BMW-M3-Touring-E91 / #BMW-M3-E91 / #BMW-E91 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E91 / #BMW-3-Series-Touring / #BMW-3-Series-Touring-E91 / #BMW-M3-DCT-E91 / #DCT / #V8 / #BMW-3-Series-V8 / #Breyton-Race
ENGINE: #S65B40 4.0-litre 32v V8 from E90 M3 LCI Saloon / #BMW-S65 / #S65 / #BMW , standard #BMW-M3-DCT transmission and LSD, full M3 Saloon manifolds and exhaust system with Saloon hanging threads added to back box
CHASSIS: 9.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) #Breyton-Race-GTS-RM wheels shod in 245/30 and 285/25 Continental tyres respectively, Bimmerworld bolt-to-lug conversion, fully adjustable #KW-Variant-3 coilovers all-round, six-pot orange #Brembo calipers from Mercedes C63 with 380mm discs
EXTERIOR: Complete E90 M3 Saloon front end comprising wings, inner arches, bonnet, front bumper, undertrays and headlights, rear arches widened using E90 M3 Saloon quarter panels, custom rear bumper fabricated from M3 Saloon item and E91 M Sport Touring bumper
INTERIOR: #BMW-Performance seats, M3 Saloon dash, consoles, trim and wiring, M3 Saloon door cards and rear bench with Touring rear seat back foam modified and retrimmed in black nappa leather to match, M3 Saloon steering wheel, M3 Saloon iDrive with CIC sat nav, AC Schnitzer pedals
THANKS: Reyland Motorsport (0121 458 6010 or www.reyland.co.uk) TRS Motorbodies (0121 4548300)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationPrecious Metal. This year’s hottest property is going to be the M2 – the best M car that #BMW currently makes? Here’s how the entry-level #BMW-M car eclipses every other model in the line-up… Words: Shane O’ Donoghue. Photography: BMW.
Forget what you know about the frisky BMW 1 Series M Coupé and forget everything we’ve ever said about the F80 M3 Saloon and F82 M4 Coupé. It’s true that the new M2 shares its wide-tracked, short wheelbase proportions with its predecessor and uses a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine too. It’s also true that the M3/M4’s rear axle, wheels and choice engine components have been drafted in to create the M2. But you need to put all that out of your head from the start, as it takes only a few minutes at the wheel to realise that this is a completely different proposition. One we think you’ll like. A lot.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Our first chance to clap eyes on the new M2 in daylight came just minutes before we got behind the wheel at the Laguna Seca race track in the States. A bright sun helped the aptly named Long Beach blue metallic paint sparkle, but even on a grey day in Slough we reckon the M2 will brighten things up. It manages that BMW M trick of looking unquestionably muscular without any glaringly obvious body add-ons. After all, we’re already fans of the M235i’s styling, but put this next to it and that car looks, well, weedy. The stunning 19-inch forged alloys set the tone, even if they result in a high-up looking car at times. They’re complemented by the expected quartet of suggestive tailpipes (dip into the M Performance Parts catalogue and you can enlarge these further, trim them in carbon and alter the sound using Bluetooth) at the rear, as part of the aerodynamic diffuser.
While there you’ll notice the most obvious styling departure from the standard 2 Series Coupé, the significantly wider track. The rear wheels are some 80mm further apart in the M2 due to the use of the M3/M4’s axle and Active M differential, and the bodywork has been suitably stretched and remodelled to suit. The result is aggressive, brawny and downright appealing to anyone that has half an interest in cars. It gives the M2 Coupé a real squareset stance, which may allay fears some may have of all that power in such a short package.
More hints at what lies beneath can be found up front, where a deep and sculpted bumper is as much air vent as it is plastic. The vertical slats on the extremities are what BMW calls Air Curtains and they form part of an extensive (though nearly invisible) aero package that reduces lift by a useful 35 per cent, while making the car more stable at high speed, yet BMW also quotes a five per cent reduction in drag.
That’s in spite of the M2’s wider tyres and bigger need for cooling, as evidenced by those large air intakes in the front bumper. The M DCT cars feature an oil cooler fed by one of these vents, while all versions get an extra water cooler for the engine itself.
And what a powerplant it is, sort of a mix between the N55 unit in the M235i and the S55 engine used in the M3/M4. Unsurprisingly, it’s a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder design, keeping the twin scroll, single-turbo induction of the N55, but it uses the S55’s pistons, high-performance spark plugs and crankshaft main bearing shells. The result is 370hp at 6500rpm (just 500rpm shy of the rather smooth rev limiter) and a useful 343lb ft of torque. Not only does the latter come on stream from 1400rpm and hang around until 5560rpm, it actually spikes to 369lb ft during ECU-regulated ‘overboost’ periods. In reality, on cut-and-thrust British B-roads, at any time other than a heatwave, the likelihood is that the full beans will be at the driver’s disposal constantly. Even in the Californian heat we never managed to catch the engine out, even if, ultimately, it’s never as uncomfortably fast as the M3/M4 can be. Still, a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds isn’t to be sniffed at.
That’s the official figure when the six-speed manual gearbox is fitted; the M DCT is 0.2 seconds faster. But this car is more about feedback and driving enjoyment than lap times and for that reason we’d recommend the manual transmission. It has a more satisfying and mechanical feeling change than the springy manual gearbox in the M3/M4 (but not bought by anyone), with small wrist movements only required to bolt through the gears. What’s more, the clutch is well-weighted, again without the springiness of BMW M cars past. Our only gripe with the manual option is that the only way to turn off the automatic rev-matching feature is to toggle the Driving Experience Control switch into Sport+. We suspect that most buyers that stick with a manual gearbox in a car like the M2 would like to partake in some heel and toeing. Saying that, if you blip the throttle yourself on the down-shift before the electronics do, it leaves you to it, so it’s well-programmed at least.
Those familiar with BMW M’s seven-speed dualclutch transmission (DCT) can expect more of the same here, but it’ll surprise anyone that hasn’t experienced it. In its softest setting, the car burbles along at low revs, conserving its fuel, while the gearbox smoothly changes up and down, making it a doddle to pootle through traffic or cruise along the motorway. But there are effectively six different modes taking into account automatic or manual operation and the three driving settings – Comfort, Sport and Sport+. At its most extreme, under full-bore acceleration, the transmission bangs in the next gear in a manner that’ll cause your passengers to wince and, at times, the rear tyres to chirrup. Back down through the gears it summons up evocative throttle blips too, which is certain to have owners changing up and down for no other reason.
This is all augmented by the bespoke exhaust system with its electronically controlled flap system. It reverberates purposefully at idle and from the outside it sounds mean and aggressive at full throttle, but within it’s quite composed until you trouble the upper reaches of the rev counter – or you select one of the Sport driving modes. It’s so refined inside that BMW felt the need to pipe engine noise through the stereo system. Not that you’d notice, as it sounds real, though as much as we like the hard-edged blare, we can’t help but hanker after the melodic naturally aspirated units of old.
The interior is a good place to be and all the usual M signifiers are present and correct. There aren’t many options so the standard specification is generous, including black Dakota leather sports seats with subtle blue stitching and the M logo embossed into the backrests. There’s electronic adjustment of the side bolsters for the front seats too, to cater for all shapes and sizes and hold you in place firmly.
Tellingly, there’s also a new leather trimmed and bluestitched knee pad on the side of the centre console for the driver. In front is a tactile three-spoke leatherwrapped (stitched in the M colours) sports steering wheel that is smaller and more slender than that in the M3/M4. In the M DCT car there are sharp, nononsense gear change paddles behind this. All cars get an unusual open pore carbon fibre trim material throughout the cabin that’s rough and textured to the touch. But that’s the only sign of weight reduction, as the equipment count includes niceties such as Professional Navigation, dual-zone climate control and the Professional Media Package.
Take a closer look at the centre console of the M2 and you’ll note the distinct lack of drive system settings buttons, as you’d normally see on all of the larger M cars. That’s because BMW M decided to keep the M2 simple. So there’s no adaptive damping, not even on the options list. Same for variable ratio steering and carbon ceramic brakes. Instead, the Driving Experience Control toggle button groups everything together, from the two-mode electric power steering to the throttle map and exhaust settings, plus the rear differential and, if fitted, the M DCT gearbox. Though the Sport+ setting, by default, switches the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system into M Dynamic Mode (MDM), the DSC’s three settings (on, MDM and off) can be chosen individually by the driver.
In Comfort mode, the M2 is quite civilised, though never quiet, which we like. It’s as easy to drive as any other 2 Series, easier even thanks to the tractability of the engine. We’d only bother with that when on a long motorway cruise though, as things get more interesting in Sport and Sport+. The noise and response levels ramp up considerably and it’s difficult not to get carried away. On track, we were advised to use Sport+ and it does indeed seem ideal for smooth, fast lapping. The MDM setting allows enough slip at the rear axle to help with maintaining momentum out of the corners without the DSC cutting in at the merest hint of a slide. Once you’re au fait with the car, however, there’s no fear in switching off the DSC completely, in the dry at least, as there’s loads of traction to be found.
Do that and you’ll uncover the true personality of this car, as it turns out to be a far friendlier and more forgiving chassis than the M3 and M4’s. With the space and freedom of a track at our disposal we were able to push beyond the limits of traction. Purely in the interests of research you understand… After six or so fast laps of Laguna Seca, it was clear that the Michelin road tyres were getting hot, but even so, the front axle remained completely true, tucking in the nose and precisely going where you want it to, with never a hint of understeer. And yet, there’s no scary unpredictable oversteer to deal with either. The M2’s natural stance is neutral and you can really feel the nigh-on 50:50 weight distribution and balance at work mid-corner, where the car is utterly stable.
But it’s far from inert and it doesn’t take too much provocation to unstick the rear tyres’ purchase on the Tarmac and lock the rear differential. Despite the short wheelbase and quick initiation into a drift, the M2 is incredibly easy to hold a long power slide with the rear tyres smoking gratuitously for the camera. It’s much more controllable in this situation than its big brothers and the power delivery seems smoother too. Now, we know that few drivers can or want to drive in such a manner, but the experiment did reveal how approachable the M2 is.
Performing in such a manner on a wide, smooth, warm race circuit is one thing, but the M2 needs to excel on tight and twisty B-roads for it to be a success in our eyes. And we found a good approximation of such a thing at the launch, though again it was warm and dry. Nonetheless, the M2 was astoundingly good on a 20-mile stretch of bucking, weaving and often bumpy American back road. It can be flung into tight corners with impunity, forgiving ham-fisted inputs, mid-corner adjustments and late braking nonchalantly.
That’s not to say it does everything for you though; it’s just so composed, so planted and capable that it soaks up abuse and continues to put its power down and maintain its pace almost regardless of the state of the road. Its compact size and wide track undoubtedly help here. Sure, the fixed damping is firm, but we never found it particularly uncomfortable. It’s worth noting that, through all this, the driver is thoroughly engaged, with strong brakes, communicative and ultra-direct steering and the sense that the active diff is completely on your side at all times. You don’t even need to be troubling the speed limit to enjoy the M2. That’s perhaps one of the biggest differences between it and the M3/M4.
Now, we accept that we came away from the M3/M4 launch wowed too and then when it arrived on wet and slippery British roads realised its limitations, so we’ll reserve final judgement on the M2 until it has proven its mettle in all conditions. But we have high hopes that this will be one of the most unforgettable new cars of the year.
The M2 is pleasingly simple – no adaptive dampers or variable rate steering buttons to adorn the centre console – and the car’s all the better for it; the main decision potential owners face is whether to opt for the manual or #DCT gearbox.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-F87 / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #2016 / #BMW-M2-M-DCT-F87 / #BMW-M2-M-DCT
TRACK (FRONT/REAR): 1579/1601mm
WEIGHT (EU): 1570kg (1595)
ENGINE: Straight-six, twin-scroll turbo
MAX POWER: 370hp at 6500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 343lb ft @ 1400-5560rpm, 369lb ft on overboost from 1450-4750rpm
0-62MPH: 4.5 seconds (4.3)
50-75MPH (5TH GEAR): 4.4 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (168mph with M Driver’s Package – not available in UK)
ECONOMY: 33.2mpg (35.8)
C0² EMISSIONS: 199g/km (185)
SUSPENSION: Aluminium double-joint spring strut with M-specific elastokinematics (front), aluminium five-link axle with M-specific elastokinematics (rear)
BRAKES: Four-piston floating-callipers with 380mm vented discs (front), double-piston floating-callipers with 370mm vented discs (rear)
STEERING: Electric Power Steering (EPS) with M-specific Servotronic function
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual (seven-speed M DCT optional), Active M differential
WHEELS: 9x19-inch (front) and 10x19-inch (rear) Forged M double-spoke alloys
TYRES: 245/35 ZR19 (front) and 265/35 ZR19 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport
PRICE (OTR): £44,070
Figures in brackets refer to seven-speed #M-DCT / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe
From the outside it sounds mean and aggressive at full throttle, but within it’s quite composedStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- 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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