- Post is under moderationIt might look like a normal Schnitzered 1 Series but this unassuming hatch is packing a triple-turbo straight-six from the M550d! Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.
What’s the best way to make the 1 Series hatch quicker? By fitting a triple-turbo 3.0-litre diesel!
While I’m sure it isn’t an actual law in Germany to accelerate like a banshee when joining a motorway it does quite often seem to be the way things are done over there. It certainly makes a welcome change from the status quo in the UK where inevitably I seem to always be following someone who seems to think that 45mph is an ideal speed to try and merge with fast-moving motorway traffic. I think perhaps the German model has something to do with the fact that on derestricted sections of autobahn the traffic you’re trying to merge with could be tanking along almost at the speed of sound so it makes sense to try and join them as fast as possible.
As luck would have it the section of autobahn that runs past AC Schnitzer’s HQ is of the derestricted variety and having warmed the cars through in the workshop and on the slow trundle to the autobahn it would be rude not to follow the approved German method of getting up to speed as soon as possible. Our support vehicle for today’s shoot is an F80 M3 and as I follow it on to the motorway in ‘my’ 1 Series hatch I’m pretty sure I know what’s going to happen: the M3’s going to disappear and I’ll spend the next few kilometres trying to play catch up.
Bizarrely this couldn’t be further from the truth. As I see the M3’s rump start to squat as the power’s applied and I wind off the last bit of slip road lock from the 1 Series’ steering I bury my size nine into the carpet and am stunned by the ferocity of this machine’s acceleration. There’s an angry, but not unpleasant, rumbling coming from the car’s engine and exhaust and that M3 is in no shape or form pulling away. The eight-speed auto melds the cogs together virtually imperceptibly and all I’m aware of is a seemingly inexorable accelerative force. It’s as if the 1 Series is attached to the back of the M3 with a steel hawser and nothing’s going to separate them.
If I’m going to be completely honest then I need to admit that before I drove this unassuming 1 Series I already knew what was under the bonnet. Had I not been aware of the power it was packing I would have been well and truly gobsmacked by its performance. If I’d have been in Schnitzer’s shoes I think I’d have been tempted to send me out for a drive in the car saying ‘see what you think of our new 120d’.
While this might look like a 120d, it’s packing a far superior punch – the triple-turbo straight-six that’s usually found under the bonnet of the M550d and X5 M50d. In standard tune it’s good for 381hp and 546lb ft of torque, but if you’re going to pop this engine into a 1 Series then obviously what it really needs is some more power, so Schnitzer’s boffins turned up the wick to 400hp and 590lb ft of torque.
Nice. As I’ve already discovered this makes it a very rapid machine indeed, and according to Schnitzer’s figures it’ll knock off the 0-62mph dash in just 4.5 seconds and can accelerate from 80-180km/h in a scant 7.9 seconds – more or less exactly on par with a standard F82 M4.
This 150d has actually been around for a little while now – Schnitzer built it to wow the crowds at the Essen Motor show at the tail end of 2015 – and while it was quite a showstopper its real purpose was to highlight the company’s range of accessories for the face-lifted 1 Series. What better way to do that than to get just about every motoring website on the planet slavering over the prospect of a 400hp super hatch? But to our knowledge no one’s actually tested the show car before, and we’re eternally grateful to the chaps at AC Schnitzer for pulling out all of the stops to get it ready for our latest visit. While the car has been up and running since it was built, Schnitzer discovered that some (fairly serious) reworking of the cooling system was going to be required so the car was put on the back burner while the company concentrated on more pressing projects.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the car does look pretty sharp, and this could be the case for any 1 Series hatch, not just those with 400hp under their bonnets. At the front there’s a two-piece front spoiler that has the effect of really tying the front end to the road, while at the rear a spoiler atop the hatch gives the impression that the car needs to be pulled down to the Tarmac at speed. The whole package is assisted by the suspension setup which hunkers the car down to the road and can be had either as the fully adjustable Racing setup, or more simply just as a spring kit. Either way the car’s lowered and when sitting on a set of Schnitzer’s AC1 rims (19-inches in this case, shod with 225/35 rubber) the look is very purposeful and aggressive. Other than that, just about the only giveaway that this car is packing some serious power is the twin-exit exhaust sprouting from the rear valance, but given that an M135i is so equipped it’s not really that much of a surprise.
Physically slotting the triple turbo version of the N57 diesel unit into the 1 Series hatch wasn’t too tricky – after all the engine’s no physically larger than the straight-six petrol unit in the M135i, but getting the engine’s electronics to talk with the 1 Series chassis was a bit of a challenge. As BMW’s most powerful diesel can only be hooked up to the fourwheel drive xDrive powertrain with the eight-speed auto the donor car was a 120d xDrive and as a result Schnitzer’s hottest 1 Series really is an absolute doddle to drive. Simply jump in, press the starter, slip the auto gear knob into D and off you go. On part throttle applications around town you really don’t get the feeling that there’s anything desperately special about the car – it really does behave just like a 120d with a slightly more vocal than standard exhaust.
As we’ve already experienced, its straight-line acceleration is sensational but what’s it like when it comes to the twisties? En route to our photo location it feels like it’s pretty eager to turn into corners and at moderate-to-brisk speeds there’s no telling there’s anything non-standard about the car. As is often the case stopping for pictures to be taken spoils the fun and while photographer Smithy positions the car to make it look like there’s a power station under the bonnet I have a quick gander at the engine bay and am greeted by one of Schnitzer’s now familiar engine optic packages. If the engine cover wasn’t painted in red and black I’d be hard pressed to see what was out of the ordinary here – it really does look like a factory installation. Inside it’s pretty untouched too, just with enough Schnitzer embellishments to make you aware that there have been a few changes from standard. There’s an alloy pedal set and footrest along with a handbrake handle and a set of floor mats. The only major change from standard is an Awron digital gauge that sits where one of the air vents on the centre consul should be.
Fortunately our lake front spot for pictures has a time limit on it so before too long it’s time to hit the road again and now the shots are imprinted to the camera’s memory card I can start to properly get to grips with the car’s performance. In the olden days of performance diesels one would always have assumed that slotting a 3.0-litre oil burner under the bonnet of a small hatch would have led to a pretty serious handling imbalance, but these days there’s very little to choose between the weight of 3.0-litre petrol and a 3.0-litre diesel unit, and while the N57S from the M550d is heavier than the N55 in the 135i it’s probably not by quite as much as you would think. Thus the 150d feels pretty handy on the back roads and can be thrown about quite happily without encountering the serious dose of understeer that your brain might be telling you should be rearing its ugly head.
That’s not to say that it can be driven like any other rear-wheel drive BMW, though, as like every xDrive machine we’ve encountered you do need to slightly modify your driving style to get the best from it. The key is to get those driven front wheels working for you and as a result you need to get on the throttle far earlier than you normally would, and when you do you can really feel the effect as they start to pull you around any given corner as the rear wheels are pushing you. It takes a little getting used to, but once you’ve got the hang of it the speed you can carry through corners has to be experienced to be believed. The more you try it the more you grow accustomed to the car’s abilities and you do find yourself starting to take liberties with the car.
On a twisty section of Tarmac it feels immense and I can’t imagine many machines feeling significantly quicker, or significantly more comfortable being treated like this. The 150d is fitted with bigger-than-standard brakes which helps to give you confidence and once you’ve gelled with the car and got accustomed to the levels of feedback on offer you really do start to feel invincible.
For once I’d have been quite happy if we’d encountered sheeting rain on our shoot, as I can only imagine how much confidence the xDrive system would give you in the wet. Transmitting this amount of power and torque to damp Tarmac in a rear-wheel drive BMW can really show up a chassis’ deficiencies – witness all the criticisms levelled at the F8x generation of M3 and M4 when driven hard on wet UK roads – but in the 150d you could really put all that power and torque to good use. As an everyday, all-season performance car that could quite easily pass under the radar, this unassuming grey hatch really can have few, if any, peers.
A couple of months back I came away from driving Schnitzer’s take on the 340i xDrive Touring thinking that it was the ultimate all rounder… I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise that opinion – my favourite everyday machine is now the Schnitzer 150d. It’s just a shame that it will remain a one-off show car as I reckon it would sell like hot cakes. As a one-off show car its build cost was in the region of €150,000 and at that price point perhaps there are too many other machines vying for our attention. If my lottery numbers come up though I’d be sorely tempted to make Schnitzer an offer it really couldn’t refuse.
CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK
Tel: 01485 542000
AC Schnitzer Germany
Tel: +49 (0)241 56 88 130
TECHNICAL DATA #2016 / #AC-Schnitzer-150d / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-150d / #BMW-150d-F21 / #AC-Schnitzer-150d-F21 / #BMW-150d-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-150d-AC-Schnitzer-F21 / #BMW-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21 /
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve, turbo diesel
MAX POWER: 400hp @ 4400rpm
MAX TORQUE: 590lb ft @ 2400rpm
0-62MPH: 4.5 seconds
80-180KM/H: 7.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
ENGINE: Installation of #N57S / #BMW-N57S triple-turbo straight-six; AC Schnitzer engine optics
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed auto, #xDrive four-wheel drive / #ZF8HP
EXHAUST: AC Schnitzer bespoke exhaust
SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer Racing suspension
WHEELS AND TYRES: #AC-Schnitzer-AC1 Bicolour, 8.5x19-inch (all-round) with 225/35 tyres
AERODYNAMICS: AC Schnitzer two-piece front spoiler elements; AC Schnitzer mirror covers (carbon); AC Schnitzer rear roof spoiler
INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set; AC Schnitzer aluminium foot rest; AC Schnitzer key holder; AC Schnitzer floor mats
As an everyday, all-season performance car that could quite easily pass under the radar, this unassuming grey hatch really can have few, if any, peers.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #2016 #BMW announces the quad-turbo diesel / #BMW-N57S / #N57S / #BMW-N57
At the 37th International Vienna Motor Symposium BMW announced the introduction of a new version of its 3.0-litre diesel engine that manages to eclipse its triple-turbo N57S engine. This new version features four-turbos – two low and two high pressure units – and develops 394hp between 4000 and 4400rpm and 561lb ft of torque from 2000-3000rpm. It’s capable of developing more torque, but it has been capped as the eight-speed #ZF ‘box to which it will be attached can’t cope with more. While power and torque aren’t hugely up on the triple turbo unit – gains are 13hp and 15lb ft – the new unit is said to be five per cent more fuel-efficient. The first car that’s due to receive the new unit will be the 750d xDrive that’s expected to do 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationA Question of Sport #2016
/ #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-5.0d / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-E89 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACZ4-5.0d-E89 / #BMW-Z4-5.0d / #BMW-Z4 / #BMW-Z4-E89 / #BMW-E89-AC-Schnitzer
AC Schnitzer endows the #BMW-Z4 with some serious diesel power with a 400hp conversion! A pure sports car with a triple-turbo diesel under the bonnet? Who’d make such a thing? AC Schnitzer – that’s who. And it knows what it’s doing… Words: Auto Bild Sportscars. Photography: Auto Bild Sportscars and AC Schnitzer.
The ACZ4 5.0d has a bespoke interior and many one-off components such as the exhaust which saves a staggering 19kg.
Track tester’s notes
Engine: Because of its nature, it doesn’t rev as sharply as a sporting, normally aspirated petrol engine. The strong torque always leads to a lightning-fast breakaway of the rear end.
Gearbox: Take everything one gear higher than normal, and shift up at 4500 rpm. Steering: Direct, precise, plenty of feedback.
Suspension: Perfectly set up for the Sachsenring, almost no roll tendency in alternating curves, just enough spring travel for small bumps. 1.34g transverse acceleration!
Brakes: Perfectly controllable, no fading, pressure point clear as glass. Brilliant.
Some of our readers may well remember the AC #Schnitzer 99d that the company built back in 2011 which combined BMW’s ubiquitous 2.0-litre diesel engine tuned to 190hp and 310lb ft of torque with the expensively lightened body of a Z4. Thanks to innumerable carbon components, the eco-sportscar was able to slim down to an unladen weight of around 1300kg. It ran on low rolling resistance tyres and returned, on average, a smidgen over 74mpg which equates to a CO² emissions figures of just 99 grams per kilometre. Sadly this technology platform – costing €149,000, but not for sale – remained a highly regarded one-off.
It was also regarded – or rather, watched – by a stubborn interested party who was inspired by the concept of a diesel sports car for rather less noble reasons than saving the planet. For him, it was more about torque. The 310lb ft offered by the four-cylinder diesel wasn’t enough for this customer, so he said to Schnitzer: “If you can make a really powerful diesel, I’ll buy the car.”
So the engine arrived – a freshly donated unit from a M550d. And in a lengthy operation, the AC Schnitzer 99d was transformed into the ACZ4 5.0d. The name is as unwieldy as it is misleading, because the tripleturbo six-cylinder doesn’t have a 5.0-litre capacity – it is, in fact, a 3.0-litre unit. That’s more than enough, though, because straight from the factory this wonder diesel delivers no less than 381hp and 549lb ft of torque and turns the two-ton-plus M550d into a very lively performer.
But what can this oil-burner add to a lightweight Z4, even when on top of everything it’s tuned by software intervention – an increase in injection quantity and, consequently, a rise in boost pressure – to 430hp and 620lb ft? And it gets better: our performance measurement actually recorded 445hp. Will the engine and chassis separate themselves from the bodywork during the traffic light grand prix? Will the propshaft tie itself in knots? Or will the rear wheels simply spin helplessly in every gear?
Somewhat surprisingly none of that happens as Schnitzer transplanted the complete rear axle from the E92 M3 (including the limited-slip diff) and fitted 9.5-inch wide forged alloy rims shod in very grippy 265 Michelins. As a result the Z4 actually transmits all that power and torque to the Tarmac remarkably well. Naturally it is possible, with the driving aids turned off, to transform the rear tyres into small black crumbs with a large dose of the throttle. However, anyone with even a hint of feeling in their right foot should be able to get smoothly off the mark (even in the wet), and rapidly shift up through second and third, and only fully press depress the throttle in fourth gear at the earliest.
The secret of the fundamentally fine controllability and high output of the BMW diesel lies in the complex valve control of the three turbos: a small high-pressure turbo ensures spontaneous response to even the smallest tap on the gas pedal. From around 1500rpm, the large low-pressure turbo joins in and provides plenty of volume and torque. Stage three comes in at around 2700rpm: a bypass line now supplies exhaust gas to a third small high-pressure turbo. From here up to maximum revs at 5400rpm, all three turbos work together to push the huge air masses into the combustion chambers for maximum power. Yet the driver notices nothing of these processes, simply enjoying the lag-free, harmonious but extreme power development up to maximum revs. So on the motorway, eighth gear is enough for all situations. Hectic flips of the shift paddles, kickdown, high revs – why bother? Just engage top gear in manual mode and press the throttle – and enjoy acceleration to a level not experienced before. The speedo needle climbs from 100 to 200km/h (62-124mph) as quickly as it does from zero to 100km/h in other well-powered cars.
The vehement thrust however ends unexpectedly early at a measured 279km/h (173mph). Is this down to the short-ratio M3 rear axle, which was really intended for a high-revving V8 petrol engine? No, because at top speed in eighth gear you’re only at 4300rpm and the diesel has enough breath for a further 1100 revs. Roman Fenners of AC Schnitzer thinks the cause lies in a protective function of the gearbox software, to prevent overheating.
But even 279km/h feels very, very fast in the diesel Z4: the solid hard-top of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which replaces the standard steel folding top and its complex electro-hydraulic folding mechanism, saving 56kg, produces a noticeable interior noise level. And the very low race-style suspension setup with short spring travel, pronounced negative camber and very wide tyres on the front axle, calls for strong arms on bumpy and grooved surfaces.
When we head off to the track, and specifically the slalom test, what was a disadvantage on the motorway here transforms into an advantage: the slightly nervous agility of the Schnitzer Z4. The pleasantly heavy steering, which feels beautifully taut and extremely precise, gives excellent feedback from the road and allows the coupé to be steered through the cones with millimetric precision. Understeer? Only when the tyres haven’t warmed up. Oversteer? Only when the throttle is used as an on/off switch.
The nose-heaviness is successfully countered by AC Schnitzer with 265 tyres on the front too – instead of the mixed tyres with considerably narrower format on the front which come on the standard Z4 top model, the sDrive35is. That car, with 340hp, weighs in at 1601kg – 123kg more than the Schnitzer with the heavy diesel unit up front. As well as the solid hard top of carbon fibre reinforced plastic there’s also a CFRP bootlid (minus 34kg), a lightweight rear silencer (minus 19kg), CFRP bucket seats (minus 35kg) and forged alloys (minus 25kg) which all save weight.
Our race ace, Guide Naumann, now takes over the controls for our hot laps of the Sachsenring to record a lap time. For this we fitted Michelin Cup 1 semislicks which in the cool autumn temperatures, despite several warm-up laps, never quite reach their optimum working temperature. But the Schnitzer still steers excellently into the Coca-Cola Kurve after the start-finish straight without understeer. The suspension is perfectly set up for the Grand Prix circuit, handling the alternating corners without too much body roll, but was still soft enough to swallow the small bumps of the Sachsenring. For the Nürburgring North Loop we reckon this setup would, however, offer too little spring travel.
When accelerating out of comers, the triple-turbo has too much power especially in conjunction with an only lightly loaded rear axle. If you press the gas on entry to the apex, the rear kicks out suddenly, so you take it in one gear higher than usual, applying the gas late and progressively. But the rear still calls for your full attention, such as in the fast right kink downhill at 180km/h, where it tries to overtake the front! With the diesel roaring loudly at race speed, you can’t hear the rev limiter so you can’t shift based on engine note. Instead you have to keep glancing away from the track and over to the rev counter. The needle, however, should never drift above 4500rpm because higher revs would only cost time and you’ve still got all that solid torque available in the next gear.
The Schnitzer braking system, with six-pots on the front, remains unmoved lap after lap – no fading, no lengthening pedal travel, just a pressure point set in stone, combined with perfect controllability. Naumann’s summed up the ACZ4 5.0d on track thus: “Race-style suspension with very high and correspondingly narrow limit zone. Overall high grip level but the huge torque proves a killer for perfect lines. With a slightly higher exterior temperature or a softer tyre compound, certainly another second could have been squeezed out.”
The comparison with the Schnitzer Z4 99d mentioned initially, which we thrashed around the Sachsenring in spring 2013, is interesting: the 200kg lighter car, which also had 255 less hp, took over five seconds longer. A good time in itself, on a par with a current Audi S4 with 333hp. Or expressed in other words: the six-cylinder diesel is a real powerhouse. For the record the ACZ4 5.0d recorded a time of 1:37.27 on a cold track… a F82 M4 DCT Coupé managed a 1:37.74 under warmer conditions. And that makes the ACZ4 5.0d the fastest diesel we’ve ever driven around the Sachsenring.
And how does the Schnitzer feel in comparison with a standard Z4 35is? Another world away. The softly set up standard BMW, trimmed for comfort and ‘safe’ understeer, feels almost stolid, almost unsporting. Today’s standard, forgiving car sadly can’t offer the sharp handling which you associate with the first generation Z4 (E85).
Overall we’re left with an impression of a machine that really does stir one’s emotions. Emotions? In a diesel? Which occasionally breathes a hint of diesel oil into the interior? Which on starting rattles like the neighbour’s rep-mobile? Which growls darkly at the front but can’t sing melodiously from the exhaust? Yes! Because the baffled looks of a few car nerds who notice that the engine note and car don’t go together, are pure gold. And then there’s the fab feeling of driving something unique, special and exotic.
This unique, special, exotic car could, however, make you curse in everyday use. For example, in the supermarket car park when you have to unlock the carbon fibre bootlid in two places, then take it off completely and put it to one side before loading your shopping. Then there’s the short-travel suspension which the driver has got used to but passengers will never take to. Add to that the always high interior noise level (yes, even the sound insulation has been scrimped on) and that when reverse parking it’s very hard to see the rear extremities… and the former Roadster has now become a year-round closed top coupé. Oh well, you can’t have everything!
It’s not a cheap conversion, though, even if using a secondhand Z4 as a basis. Almost all the internals have been thrown out and the new engine and eightspeed automatic alone cost nearly €50,000. Then it goes without saying that the suspension and brakes have to be uprated to match the huge power gain. The interested party could save a few euros though by skipping the lightweight components.
Either way, AC Schnitzer has come up with a cracking package for this car. A heavy, extremely powerful diesel in a delicate lightweight coupé? We were sceptical, but our scepticism gradually developed into unalloyed enthusiasm during the test – AC Schnitzer has successfully pulled out all the stops to create this extraordinary concept.
Schnitzer has stripped a huge amount of weight from the Z4 thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre such as these front wings and the new roof.
TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-AC-Schnitzer ACZ4 5.0d
ENGINE: Six-cylinder, triple-turbo diesel, 24-valve / #N57S / #BMW-N57S / #N57S / #BMW-N57 / #N57 / #N57-AC-Schnitzer /
BORE/STROKE: 90.0 x 84.0mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 16.0:1
MAX POWER: 430hp @ 4400rpm
MAX TORQUE: 620lb ft @ 2000-2400rpm
0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
0-124MPH: 12.9 seconds
QUARTER-MILE TIME: 12.31 seconds
TOP SPEED: 173mph
ECONOMY: 20.6-39.8mpg (27.2mpg on test)
ENGINE: Triple-turbo straight-six diesel, retuned
TRANSMISSION: Eight-speed automatic
FRONT BRAKES: 380 mm, vented and slotted, six-piston callipers
REAR BRAKES: 370mm, vented
WHEELS: AC Schnitzer Type VIII lightweight forged wheels ‘BiColor Orange’, 9.5x19 inches
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport 265/30 ZR 19 Y
ROOF: Replacement of the two-piece, electrohydraulically operated, folding steel roof with a CFRP hard-top saves 56kg, the #CFRP bootlid a further 34kg. The roof is now fixed and the bootlid can only be opened by removing it fully.
GLASS: The rear screen and rear side windows (which can no longer be lowered) are made of lightweight polycarbonate.
SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer racing suspension, fully adjustable in compression and rebound stages.
AERODYNAMICS: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler, AC Schnitzer carbon sports wings, AC Schnitzer bonnet vents, AC Schnitzer rear spoiler (two-piece), AC Schnitzer carbon rear skirt insert.
INTERIOR: Interior trim elements painted, carbon racing seats with #ACZ4 5.0d logo, AC Schnitzer aluminium footrest and pedal set, AC Schnitzer instrument cluster.
PRICE: €114,000 (one-off build cost)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationTalk the Torque A home-built 330Cd with over 400hp and nearly 700lb ft of torque? We went to have a closer look. While we all know tuned #BMW direct-injection diesels produce fantastic results, the question always is how far can you go? #E46 #330Cd owner Chris Haynes decided to find out, with quite incredible results… Words: Steve Neophytou. Photography: Steve Hall.
While the stigma of diesel lumps being sluggish, unrefined engines built purely for economy is something that is hard to lose, BMW has probably done more to dispel this than any other manufacturer.
The M57 and more recently the N57 series of inline ‘six diesels have been at the forefront of diesel engine performance from their first release right up until the present day; and the amount of ‘best engine’ and ‘best diesel engine’ awards they have won is testament to that. More importantly for us, the drivers, is that BMW demonstrated to the world that true performance cars could really be diesel-powered, originally with the #330d , then with the twin-turbo #335d , and most recently with the #M550d with its triturbo #N57S engine. With the advent of the twin-turbo, and most recently tri-turbo diesel engines, the original single turbo version commonly found in the #E46 330d has been pushed out the limelight somewhat.
Understandably, a lot of people’s thoughts are that it can’t hope to compete with these newer versions fitted with multiple turbochargers and much higher fuel pressures without a level of tuning that would be totally economically unviable. While the standard performance figures are indeed miles apart, Chris Haynes and his awesome E46 330Cd prove that not only can diesels be fantastic all-round road and track weapons, but that, with a little thought and ingenuity, even a single turbo diesel can be tuned to incredible performance levels without breaking the bank.
Before we go any further, let’s lay this car’s figures on the table for you, as you’re no doubt dying to know. 407hp and 698lb ft at 2.5bar (36psi) boost on a Dyno Dynamics’ rolling road. This was no lucky run on a generous dyno either, in fact it’s the lowest of the figures the car has produced at its current spec, with 412hp and 750lb ft achieved on one rolling road, and 420hp and 700lb ft on another, but with three consistent runs on the same rollers producing the original figures, those are the ones Chris is happy to claim, and we’re more than happy to print.
While these numbers seem quite amazing, considering the twin-turbo 335d pushes out 282hp and 430lb ft, and even the tri-turbo M550d has a little less, with 381hp and 546lb ft, perhaps the most surprising thing about the engine is drivability has not been sacrificed. Comparing the figures in detail to the technological masterpiece that is the tri-turbo N57S, which uses its three turbos in both sequential and compound form to give a huge powerband from idle to the redline, is a good example of how impressive Chris’ work is. With just one turbo, none of the turbocharging tricks such as sequential activation and compounding can be used, making it much harder to solve the common diesel problem of a narrow powerband, but despite this, Chris has proved it is possible. While Chris’ engine loses out on torque up to 2600rpm in comparison to the M550d lump, he’s still got 300lb ft at under 2000rpm, 400lb ft by 2300rpm, and 500lb ft by 2500rpm, which is a massive amount of lowdown grunt in anyone’s book.
Further to this, while BMW claims the N57S produces 546lb ft between 2000 and 3000rpm, Chris’ car produces that much, and up to 150lb ft more, from 2600rpm to 3900rpm; actually a wider rpm range than the factory tri-turbo. When comparing horsepower things look just as impressive, with BMW claiming 381hp between 4000 and 4400rpm with the N57S, but the tuned M57N in Chris’ 330Cd you see on these pages produces that 381hp, or more, between 2900 and 4300rpm, and peaking over 25hp higher; despite having two less turbochargers and a lot less technology.
So while we’ve established this car produces amazing numbers, it’s important to realise this is no dyno queen. This car is not all about the engine; it’s been built as a true all-rounder. In fact it’s one of the most complete performance E46 330Cds we’ve ever seen. Chris uses the car for track days, trips to the Nürburgring, drag racing (116mph terminal speed, faster than an #E92 #M3 , and similar to an #E60 #M5 , despite struggling for grip until over 60mph), drifting, and road use too, both as a weekend toy and on occasion an entertaining daily driver, so let’s take a look at what Chris has done to the car, and why.
First up, understandably, is the engine, which surprisingly is still on standard internals with no sign of weaknesses as yet, though the dreaded swirl flaps, as well as the EGR setup, have been completely removed. While the engine made around 300hp and 500lb ft when still running the standard turbo and injectors, albeit with the addition of a free flowing exhaust system, large front mount intercooler, and a generic remap, near the end of 2013, after the standard turbo expired for the second time, Chris decided to, in his own words: “Go mad with it.”
Inspired by the tuning exploits of Scandinavians with another, albeit less advanced, German straight-six 3.0-litre diesel, the Mercedes OM606, not to mention how impressed he was with the durability of the M57N so far, Chris’ next step with the engine was to significantly increase fuel and air flow, with larger injectors from a 535d, and a hybrid turbo setup based on E90 #3#30d parts. The standard E90 330d unit is a GTB2260VK, which in itself is a capable turbo, but Chris sent this one to be modified by Darkside Developments, who upgraded it with a higher flowing GT25 turbine and 66mm compressor wheel, which they call the GTB2566VK. The importance of exhaust flow on a turbocharged engine shouldn’t be underestimated, especially directly after the turbo outlet, and it certainly wasn’t by Chris, who fitted a custom 3.5-inch downpipe which connected to the three-inch system that was previously fitted.
The original front mount intercooler setup was enlarged with a huge four-inch thick core to cope with cooling the massive 2.5bar of boost pressure, and in addition to this a Devils Own water/methanol injection was added. As well as cooling the inlet charge, Chris has found the water/meth injection significantly lowers exhaust gas temps, improving both performance and reliability at the same time.
As you can imagine, with this host of new mods the original remap was far from optimal, so the car was sent off for a custom map. “Once the car was mapped it was transformed, it pulled hard right to the 5000rpm rev limit, but at part throttle I felt it could be better, and the vibrations at idle through the uprated engine mounts were horrendous” explained Chris. Some people would live with those issues, others would shell out for yet another remap, but Chris is no chequebook tuner, so he got hold of the WinOLS mapping software and MPPS connection lead, and taught himself to remap the car. “The first job was to increase the idle speed to 880rpm, which totally eliminated any idle shake, in fact it’s not much worse than a petrol engine now, but I soon realised the map on the car, while effective, was pretty crude, so I decided to redo it all myself, piece-by-piece,” Chris explained. “It took time, but I’ve managed to make the car just as powerful as the professionals made it, but far smoother, with less exhaust smoke, lower EGTs, and it still happily does 45mpg at motorway speeds!”
With almost 700lb ft going to the rear wheels, getting acceptable amounts of traction is no easy task, but thanks to the addition of the Quaife ATB limitedslip differential and 255 wide Federal RSR road legal track tyres, both straight line and cornering grip is actually very impressive. While the car still smokes both rear wheels by simply going full throttle in second gear in the dry, and will wheelspin at three figure speeds in the wet, it has great and controllable traction for something with such enormous torque.
Earlier E46s are well known for cracking rear subframe mounts, but it seems the massive torque and sub nine-minute Nürburgring laps took its toll even on Chris’ later car, as he had the very same problem, though he fixed this with his own 3mm sheet steel plates to reinforce the area. This wasn’t the only subframe part that needed beefing up due to the huge torque either, as the front subframe needed reinforcing after cracking around the engine mounts too. Beyond this, the engine and transmission mounts, and all suspension and subframe bushes have been uprated, along with the clutch and flywheel which have been replaced with SPEC Stage 3+ items. One thing that hasn’t needed uprating is the gearbox, as the six-speed manual ZF box is rapidly gaining legendary status in the tuning world for coping with incredible levels of power and torque, and it’s something Chris has had no issue with at all.
We’ve mentioned this car’s frequent track day use already in this feature, and it’s posted some very impressive lap times, something you don’t get from engine performance alone. Chris has put serious effort in to making the braking and handling just as impressive as the engine, running HSD coilovers, uprated top mounts, adjustable front and rear camber, uprated ARBs, and a full complement of uprated bushes. While the car certainly has the right parts, it’s the geometry setup that Chris perfected over numerous track days that really makes the car handle. “It’s set up mostly for the track, but it handles great both on the road legal tyres and the Michelin full slicks I use on dry track days,” he explains.
On the braking side of things, Chris’ 330Cd runs M3 CSL front discs and 750i rears, with Brembo Porsche 996 callipers all-round, but he classes the most effective part of the brake system to be the Carbon Lorraine brake pads. “Even running the standard discs and callipers with racing slicks I was able to lock up the brakes even at very high speed, and they had no fade at all, and now with the bigger brakes things feel even better,” Chris explained.
So on the road and track, how does it behave, and what’s people’s reactions to it? “Well, #E92 M3s are easy pickings in a straight line, and on the way home from one dyno session even a #Ferrari-California was seen off too. And almost nobody believes it’s a diesel when they see it go, and it never fails to shock when I take people for passenger rides,” Chris laughs.
So while Chris has built what’s quite possibly the ultimate tuned diesel BMW, does that mean the car is complete? Well, as is so often the way, no, not even close. First up is the rear diff ratio, which he’s about to change from the standard 2.46 to a 2.28. “I’ve seen a GPS-verified 174mph at 5000rpm on the current setup, but it runs out of gears so easily I think the 2.28 will not only increase top speed to 186mph, but it should improve overall acceleration too as I can hold it in-gear for longer,” Chris explained. It doesn’t end there either, as the immense performance increases achieved so far have given him the confidence and experience to say that a lot more is certainly possible. “I’m running around 31 degrees injector duration to achieve peak torque at the moment, so I’m sure there’s more in them, and if I could hold the 700lb ft to 4000rpm it would make 530hp, so it’s time to try and get some more air in. This won’t happen with the current turbo though, as it’s literally on its knees at the current level,” Chris laughs. His plan for the engine, which may have started by the time you read this, is to replace the current turbo and manifold setup with a custom tubular item and a big Holset HX40V VGT turbocharger, and swap the stock plastic inlet manifold with a stronger and freer flowing custom alloy item.
“I’m hoping the new setup will give 3bar of boost and make good power up to 5500rpm while still having great lowdown power too. I just hope the fuel pump can keep up!” One thing is for sure, if this car’s ground-breaking story so far is anything to go by, Chris is going to have a whole lot of fun finding out…
“If I could hold the 700lb ft to 4000rpm it would make 530hp...”
#2004 BMW 3-series E46 330Cd
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: #M57N 3.0-litre 24v inline six engine, swirl flaps removed, full EGR system removal, BMW 535d injectors, E90 330d exhaust manifold, 535d cam cover, Darkside Developments #GTB2566VK hybrid turbo running 2.5bar boost, 3-inch custom intake with ITG filter and cold air feed, custom 3.5-inch downpipe, 3-inch turbo back straight through exhaust, custom 4-inch core intercooler setup with hard pipes, self-mapped ECU, Devils Own water/methanol injection activated at 1bar boost, Kelowe 16-inch electric fan, Mocal oil catch tank, aircon removed, Vibratechnics engine mounts, 5000rpm rev limit, 2.5bar boost, ZF six-speed manual gearbox, CAE Ultra Shifter, modified gear linkage, SPEC billet steel single mass flywheel, SPEC Stage 3+ clutch, SPEC thrust bearing, Quaife ATB diff, polyurethane gearbox and diff mounts.
CAPACITY: HSD Monotube coilovers with 12kg rate springs, front camber plates, rear pillowball top mounts, H&R adjustable front and rear ARBs, complete Powerflex Black series uprated suspension and subframe components, aluminium rear camber arms, custom front and rear subframe reinforcement plates.
BRAKES: BMW M3 CSL 345mm front discs, BMW #750i 328mm rear discs, Brembo Porsche 996 fourpot callipers front and rear, Carbone Lorraine brake pads (RC6 front, RC5+ rear), braided brake lines, ATE Racing Blue DOT4 fluid.
WHEELS & TYRES: #BBS CH015 8.5x18 with Federal RSR 255/35/18 tyres for road use, BMW MV2 8x18 with Michelin 240/640/18 racing slicks for dry track use, 90mm wheel stud conversion.
INTERIOR: Full heated electric M Sport leather, exhaust gas temperature and boost pressure displays.
EXTERIOR: Standard M Sport exterior with de-chromed kidney grilles.
THANKS: Big thanks to my dad for not only helping with machining and welding on this project, but he is the one who got me in to mechanical stuff in the first place – he even taught me how to weld. I would also like to thank my good friend Gaz for the use of his workshop so I could build the car and Darkside Developments for building an awesome turbo.
“It never fails to shock when I take people for passenger rides…”
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