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    Built on a tight timeline but finished to perfection, this box-fresh M4 glimmers in the sunshine like a freshly-minted Exocet missile. It’s high spec, angry, and dressed to impress… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Viktor Benyi. / #Hawaii-3.0 WILD M4

    Outrageous build by Bulletproof Automotive

    HAWAII 3.0 Bulletproof Automotive’s wild F82 M4

    We, as human beings, are effectively composite images reflecting the sum total of our experiences. Every one of us is unique, and we all have disparate stories to tell because we’ve all been in different situations at different times; our memories, the places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen, it all helps to inform our own nuanced world view. So it is with project cars that the owner’s past experiences serve to fuel their own one-off spec sheets and aesthetics; sure, it’d be easy to say ‘OK, it’s a modified M4, so you take [x] parts from this shelf, and [y] parts from that shelf…’, but no – that does the entire scene a disservice. The car you’re looking at here is an international superstar – it’s got lashings of Oceania, a healthy dose of sun-scorched Nevada, a tangy shot of the Orient, and it’s all slathered on a quintessentially German base. Such is the magic of the modern #BMW scene. We’re so deeply entrenched in the culture of Generation D (that is, the post Gen-Y world view that can’t possibly envisage an existence without constant connectivity) that taking cues from disparate global scenes is simply second nature.

    A Japanese-inspired BMW from Hawaii, then, built to wow the crowds at SEMA. How does that particular basket of ingredients come together? Well, it’s all down to the visionary prowess of Rob Batz, who operated in beautiful synthesis with Bulletproof Automotive to get the job done and make this special flavour of madness work. “I’ve always been into BMWs, ever since high school,” he explains. “I just couldn’t ever afford one! My first car was a Mk2 Golf GTI 16v, and BMWs seemed like a logical step up from the VAG cars that I was driving as a teenager.”

    Rob set himself down the righteous path with an E30 325is, having found himself in the military and, in his own words, ‘not wanting to just buy a Honda’. But it hasn’t been a case of stepping out of that E30 and into this F82, there have been a number of other project stepping stones along the way: a pair of E90s helped him to hone his skills and really get inside the mindset of the modern-era BMW reality, and then a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X was next in line to receive the treatment. “That was the car that really cemented my love for Varis aero components,” says Rob and the significance of this statement will soon make itself apparent.
    “What I really wanted to do was create an M4 that blended BMW engineering with JDM tuning culture,” he continues, “and I was pleased to have the opportunity to team up with Bulletproof Automotive to make my vision a reality.” Bulletproof is an intriguing entity; based in LA, you’re most likely to be familiar with its work if you’re a fan of the Japanese tuning scene. Readers in the UK may recall seeing its builds on the cover of the now-defunct Max Power back in the noughties, and these days it’s a top-flight outfit acting as an official distributor of such iconic Japanese brands as Top Secret, Mine’s, TommyKaira, JUN and Powerhouse Amuse – all the names you got to know racing Jap metal in Gran Turismo in the ’90s! If you cut Bulletproof open, it bleeds wasabi. An interesting choice to buddy up with for a BMW build, then…

    “I had the whole project 80% mapped out before I even bought the car,” Rob explains, scything any ambiguity with a sceptre of unmistakable certainty. “I bought the car brand new from a BMW dealer in Honolulu, and it was a tight deadline to get it finished in time for its SEMA show debut.” How tight? Try four weeks – there’s no pressure like show pressure, right? Job one was to install the Armytrix exhaust; an inspired choice as it adds 26hp while subtracting 4kg in weight, and its valve system provides F1-style howling on high-rev demand. With the aural assault box ticked, the M4 was off to the bodyshop.

    As you can see, the external transformation is pretty significant – the F82’s now rocking a carbon-fibre Varis widebody kit comprising front and rear wings, front lip, skirts, ducts, the works, and the whole thing has been re-finished in the car’s original Alpine white. To top off the already outrageous aesthetic, you’ve probably spotted that it’s sporting quite a large wing on the back; that’s an 1800mm Varis carbonfibre unit with swan-neck mounts, and it’s about as subtle as a brick in the face on a quiet Sunday morning.

    “After the wide-body was moulded and it was all painted, it was time to focus in the interior,” says Rob. And it’s somewhat extreme – full-on race car at first glance, and then you realise that the custom re-trim actually makes it quite luxurious. An intriguing combo. “The seats are Recaro Japan RS-Gs,” he tells us. “There’s a custom roll-cage and rear seat delete, and everything was trimmed by Bulletproof in three-colour Alcantara with custom M stitching – the seats, dash, door cards, console, headlining, everything.” It makes for an incredible effect, at once racetrack-purposeful and alluringly sumptuous. But then, of course, the guys had their crosshairs set on SEMA – if you’re not rocking the full package, they won’t let you through the door. Perfection is expected, and Bulletproof really delivered here.

    “The suspension and brakes came next,” Rob continues. “It’s running Aragosta Type SS three-way coilovers, along with Aragosta’s Air Cup system to raise it when required, and the brakes are Runduce eightpots up front with six-pots at the rear.” If you’re not immediately familiar with these brand names within the BMW bubble, that’s because – once again – we’re dealing with premium Japanese parts. Don’t allow it to jar with your sensibilities, just let the multicultural vibe flow like cool water. It’s refreshing. “The corner balancing followed, then the engine tune and the installation of the Gruppe-M carbon fibre intake, again from Japan,” he says. “Many long nights at Bulletproof Automotive allowed the car to be loaded for its debut at SEMA with no time to spare!”

    Talk about cutting it fine, eh? And the fun part was organising the logistics to get it built and then delivered to the show on time. Las Vegas, home of SEMA, is around 270 miles from Los Angeles, Bulletproof’s stomping ground, which isn’t an insurmountable distance. You could drive it in five hours, and that includes a generous lunch stop. But Honolulu to Los Angeles?

    That’s over 2500 miles of ocean. You can see why this build has such a Japanese influence – it’s not that much further to Tokyo than it is to LA! (Well, OK, another 1000 miles, but who’s counting?) Rob’s initial option was to ocean-freight the car to LA, but that would have taken around fourteen days – a sizable chunk from such a truncated timetable – but thankfully he was able to track down a company who could air freight it to the City of Angels in a hurry. Time rests for no man; doubly so on a show schedule.

    All worked out alright in the end though, didn’t it? “I’d say my favourite modification is the Runduce brakes,” Rob ponders, having given the question some serious consideration. “To my knowledge it’s the only set on an F80/2 in the world, and I was personally involved in every aspect of them from caliper and disc selection to colours.

    And I love the wheels too; originally it was running Volk G25s in Mag Blue, but the TE37 SL is a timeless wheel and it just fits in better with the car. I wanted the interior to be a one-off as well, with high quality finishes and extreme detail, and it’s turned out great. The team at Bulletproof sent me some renders and we came up with a plan to execute the final product; the end result is the perfect mix of JDM and BMW.” Which, of course, was the aim of the endeavour from the very start – a mid-Pacific fusion of global thinking.

    So yes, the car did make it to SEMA on time as planned. And, unsurprisingly, the crowds were suitably impressed. Is Rob happy with the results of the breakneckspeed project? You bet he is. “There are no further plans for it,” he says, with the easy satisfaction of a man who’s just finished a marathon and knows there’s a pub nearby. “The plan now is just to not allow it to sit; to take it out and enjoy it!” Which is just how it should be. The car’s fulfilled its role as a static showpiece, and now it’s getting out there and showing the world just what this German/Japanese fusion is capable of. Watch out, Hawaii – the East and the West are coming to gatecrash.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE / #Bulletproof-Automotive / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW / #2017 / #Bulletproof-Automotive-M4 / #Bulletproof-Automotive-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Bulletproof-Automotive-F82 / #BMW-M4-Bulletproof-Automotive / #S55-ESS-Tuning / #Rays-Volk / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #BMW-M4-F82-Tuned

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30T0 / #BMW-S55 / #S55 / #S55B30 , Gruppe-M carbon-fibre intake, #ESS-Tuning remap, #ARMYTRIX turboback stainless steel exhaust system. Seven-speed M-DCT / DCT gearbox / Aragosta-Air / Aragosta /

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (front) and 10.5x19” (rear) #Rays-Volk-TE37-SL wheels in Hyper Blue with 265/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Toyo R888 tyres, #Aragosta-Type-SS three-way coilovers with #Aragosta-Air-Cup system, FallLine/IND prototype rear camber/toe arms, Runduce eight-pot calipers (front) and six-pot calipers (rear) with 380mm discs (front and rear)

    EXTERIOR Resprayed in OEM Alpine white, Varis carbon fibre widebody kit, #Varis System 2 VSDC bonnet, Varis 1800mm carbon fibre swan neck GT wing, Willans tow strap, custom livery designed by Edwin Reyes

    INTERIOR Recaro Japan RS-G seats, Bulletproof Automotive/Willans custom harnesses, M Performance carbon fibre DCT console, gear selector and door handles, #HG-Motorsports custom roll-cage, custom rear seat delete, full custom Alcantara re-trim by Bulletproof Automotive (dash, door cards, seats, headlining, console) in three colours with custom M stitching

    THANKS Thanks to the team at Bulletproof Automotive and their partners on the build. Thanks to Edwin Reyes for the amazing livery. Terrence and the team at #BMW-Honolulu for getting me the car in time. Mr. Osorio for taking care of the car for me while I was in Honolulu, 2500 miles away from it. Lastly, my family for remaining patient as this build occupied much of my time!

    “What I really wanted to do was create an M4 that blended #BMW engineering with JDM tuning culture”
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    The M4 is an extremely capable machine but there’s plenty more potential to be unlocked, and that’s exactly what Thorney Motorsport has been busy doing. Words: Elizabeth de Latour Photos: Matt Richardson.

    Thorney Motorsport M4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Exterior has been enhanced with GT4-style spoiler.

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

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

    POWER 530hp

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

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

    INTERIOR All Stock
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    Finely Honed #BMW

    The M3 is a hugely accomplished machine straight out-of-the-box, but with the full Schnitzer treatment it’s an even sharper instrument Words and photography: Steve Hall.

    We take a trip to Germany to see what a set of AC Schnitzer upgrades can do for the M3.

    Wheelspin… let’s try third. There’s the boost… and there’s the wheelspin. Okay, how about fourth gear? A flicker from the traction control, the looser MDM mode allowing a moderate amount of traction loss. Yep, probably not the ideal conditions to test the performance envelope of a rear-wheel drive saloon sporting 70lb ft of torque and 60hp more than the already punchy standard M3. It seems churlish to reference traction issues given the rain has been falling in a deluge for the last hour leaving the roads glistening with a sheen of water that even German drainage is struggling to cope with. With no let-up in sight, my run of luck (after four days of German autumnal sunshine) has come to an end; there will be no photoshoot today…

    Fast-forward one week, and we’re greeted with a late October day basking in sunshine. Chilly it may be but the roads are bone dry, perfect for those turbos to gulp down cool air and operate at maximum efficiency. You’d think they already were – particularly in 450hp Competition pack form – but no, with the ACS3 Sport, Schnitzer has managed to squeeze 510hp out of the M3’s lusty #S55B30 in-line ‘six, backed by a solid wall of torque, peaking at 475lb ft.

    Given that we’ve found the standard M3 hardly lacking in the area of straight line performance, adding 20 percent more power and 17 percent more torque has a suitably eye-opening effect on the level of performance on offer, and explains the M3’s difficulty in getting that performance onto the ground the previous week. Hardly an M3 strong point, wet traction is something that either occupies the traction control system or demands a lot of your attention, depending which setting you’ve deployed in the stability control system. Either way, you’re glad of the M3’s natural chassis balance.

    To be fair, it comes as no surprise that a 475lb ft rear-wheel drive saloon struggles to put its power down in sodden conditions, particularly when you look at the torque curve – maximum torque arrives before even 2000rpm has registered on the tachometer. The ramp up in torque so low down in the rev range can have the rear wheels over-rotating before you can say sideways, requiring swift and accurate corrective lock, but with time you learn to measure your throttle inputs and start to enjoy the ACS3’s exuberance. You always need your wits about you in the wet as a small amount of lateral load (such as when joining a motorway) can set the tail wagging in even fourth gear, but generally speaking the task of managing the Schnitzer M3’s rampant torque delivery is an entertaining challenge.

    Naturally things are much calmer on the dry roads of today’s photoshoot. There’s more than enough torque to break traction in second (and third over undulations) but we’re able to delve deep into the ACS3’s power band and really give it its head. There’s a stretch of autobahn between the Schnitzer factory in the east of Aachen, Germany and our photoshoot location to the south which allows several kilometres of derestricted running, and despite the smattering of traffic there are a few opportunities to really let rip through the intermediate gears. So we find ourselves cruising at the posted 120km/h limit, waiting for the fabled white circle with the diagonal triple black stripe to appear, shifting down into third as we approach, then bury the throttle as we enter the zone. Third, fourth and fifth gears are swiftly dispatched, the sixth ratio quickly taking us deep into an indicated 250km/h+ (155mph) before traffic ahead brings speeds back to normal. We repeat the exercise a few more times – all in the name of science, you understand – and find the M3’s ability to leap from 130km/h (81mph) up to serious territory north of 250km/h deeply impressive. This is major league performance, and feels way beyond the standard M3 in its ability to shrug off weight and aerodynamic drag to pile on speed. Repeating the exercise in fourth and fifth gears underline the torque-rich nature of the S55B30’s mid-range, the motor pulling hard from 3000rpm, making short work of the sprint back up to 250km/h. There’s plenty of reward to be had from letting the engine rev right out to its 7600rpm redline, too; just as with the standard M3/4 the Schnitzer-massaged S55B30 has a freerevving nature and energetic top end delivery which belies its forced induction, accompanied by a sonorous howl from the Schnitzer exhaust.

    Which brings us neatly to one of the star facets of this car; it sounds ripsnortingly good. The M3 (and M4) are hardly a pair of shrinking violets but the addition of the Schnitzer rear silencers introduces an extra level of volume from the rear which sounds suitably menacing at idle (particularly on start up), with a deep, powerful, sporting timbre through the mid-range. As one of the prime senses excited whilst driving a performance car, the added aural signature of the ACS3 is an important and integral part of the package. The silencers incorporate flap control, so startup soon calms down to sociable volume levels whilst adding a pleasing visual flourish.

    It will not have escaped your attention that adding visual flourish is very much part of the Schnitzer remit for the ACS3 Sport. Ticking the box marked ‘San Marino blue-metallic’ is always going to be an excellent starting point – this colour looks sensational in direct sunlight – and we applaud the decision to opt for the four-door M3 over the perhaps more obvious M4 Coupé as the ACS3 Sport demonstrator. There’s something terrifically butch and aggressive about the pumped up M3 shape, particularly from the rear three quarters.

    Schnitzer has fitted its familiar, gorgeous, fivespoke AC1 Lightweight forged alloys wrapped in 265/30/R20 (front) and 285/30/R20 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sports. They hunker into the arches of the 30mm lower ACS3 Sport, and alongside the myriad carbon exterior elements – front splitter and side wings primary among them – combine to create a cohesive and imposing aesthetic signature. The flourishes continue inside in the usual Schnitzer fashion, so footrest and pedals are replaced with aluminium items whilst handbrake handle, mats and key holder are Schnitzer items. With photography duties just about finished it’s time to head back to the factory, taking in a few twisties along the way. It’s here that the AC Schnitzer RS adjustable suspension comes to the fore, demonstrating an impressive ability to round off the worst the road surface can throw at it without introducing the crashiness sometimes associated with lowering a car and reducing suspension travel.

    Naturally the setup is very firm, but this affords superb body control, the ACS3 Sport changing direction sharply with little discernible body roll. The ACS3 feels taught, controlled and keyed into the road surface with none of the vertical bobbing the M3 occasionally elicits over long amplitude bumps. As a passive system for a road-based car, we’d say Schnitzer has nailed its setup, delivering the level of control we look for in a tuned car of this power without overstepping the mark and making it too harsh for road use.

    On the autobahn, at the very high speeds the ACS3 is so easily capable of, stability is just as supreme as you’d expect; you could drive with one hand at 150mph should you so desire (naturally, we don’t recommend this!). Of course, we’re pretty much in one of the ACS3’s natural habitats here on the autobahn, but it’s another demonstration of how thoroughly the package has been developed. Indeed, this is part and parcel of buying a car such as the ACS3 Sport. With a company as well known and respected as Schnitzer, you know the car has been subject to a fulsome testing programme before it was ready to launch.

    Consequently, others in the M3/4 tuning world may have got to market sooner, and some may offer higher power outputs, but with the ACS3 you’re paying for the thoroughness and the confidence that comes with that. A confidence reflected in the two-year warranty Schnitzer supplies as part of all its upgrades. With the tuning box approach (whereby the new ECU effectively piggy-backs onto the existing one) it’s even possible to return your car to factory standard settings should you so desire. And, of course, that thoroughness of engineering is reflected in every element of the driving experience. We love the M3/4 family as it leaves Munich’s hallowed halls, but a visit to Aachen moves the M3 onto another level: sharper, faster, visually imposing and replete with an aural signature to make you smile.

    TECHNICAL DATA #2017 #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS3-F80 / #AC-Schnitzer / #BMW #M3-based #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-M3 / #AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-M3-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M3-AC-Schnitzer-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #ACS3-Sport

    ENGINE: Twin-turbo, straight-six
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 510hp
    MAX TORQUE: 476lb ft
    0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
    50-120MPH: 6.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    DIMENSIONS: (length/width/height in mm): 4671/1870/1383
    WEIGHT/MATERIAL: 1572kg/steel aluminum and composites


    ENGINE: #AC-Schnitzer-performance-upgrade and exhaust system with valve control and Sport Black tailpipe trims / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #S55-AC-Schnitzer / #S55-tuning

    WHEELS AND TYRES: #AC-Schnitzer-AC1 lightweight forged in BiColour finish.
    Front: 9x20-inches with 265/30 R20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.
    Rear: 10x20-inches with 285/25 R21 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres

    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer adjustable coilover ‘Racing’ package, lowered 30mm at the front and 40mm at the rear
    STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler elements, rear diffuser, upper rear spoiler, Racing front splitter, side wings, carbon rear spoiler, carbon fibre wing mirror covers

    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set and footrest, handbrake handle, key holder and floor mats

    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK
    Tel: 01485 542000
    AC Schnitzer (Germany)
    Tel: +49 (0) 241 5688130

    Visual flourish is very much part of the Schnitzer remit for the ACS3 Sport.

    The added aural signature of the ACS3 is an important and integral part of the package.
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    Double Dare

    Owning one street-and track-tuned M3 would be enough for most people. But not Chad Bates – he’s upped the ante with a matching pair. Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Peter Wu.


    Fierce E92 M3 and F80 M3 tear up the Tarmac / Stunning twin M3s

    The two cars you’re looking at here – the E92 M3, and the F80 M3 – may be just a single generation apart, but they couldn’t be more different. The E92 features a thudding Goliath of an engine, a brutal, highrevving V8 with a soundtrack that can strip paint off cheap houses. It is (relatively speaking) an old-skool bruiser.

    The F80, conversely, is a smart representation of modern technological advances; a focus on combining performance with efficiency – plus the everpresent emissions Sword of Damocles – has seen to it that the motor is now a twin-turbo straight-six. Furthermore, this generation finally broke the M3 chain, hitherto being a badge glued to the two- and four-door variants: whereas the E92 M3 we have here is a coupé, the F80 is a four-door saloon. If you want a two-door coupé version of the F80, you will find yourself with an M4. Which is actually an F82. Such is progress, such is life.

    They are, of course, tied by an indelible bond, each an exciting chapter in the ongoing M3 saga, and their owner, Chad Bates, has artfully augmented these ties with tasteful upgrades to further accentuate their kinship: they both wear BBS wheels, they both roll on KW suspension, they’re both painted in subtle shades of grey. This measured approach is the result of a lifetime of modifying for Chad – although he admits that BMWs are, in the grand scheme of things, reasonably new territory for him.

    “I bought my first car, a 1984 Jeep Cherokee, at the age of 16,” he explains. “Ever since that point I have embarked upon making a personal statement with my cars.

    The Cherokee got stripped down and repainted, and received one of the most insane sound systems that money could buy. It was a fun little first car that got me around during my high school years! My second car was a heavily modified 1992 Honda Accord, which I kept for a couple of years before purchasing an Acura Integra GS-R – that, again, was heavily modified, although it got stolen and vandalised in 2002, and that left a horrible taste in my mouth.”

    Disheartened by this turn of events, Chad just didn’t feel his place in the modifying scene any more, so he pulled the ’chute and drifted out of it. Fast-forward to 2008 and he’d become a family man, so he acquired his first BMW – a shiny new 550i – to ferry the kids around in. It was wellequipped and had a bit of get-up-and-go, but he never felt any desire to modify it. But then, in 2011, the lease expired and Chad found himself yearning for something more… offbeat. And that’s when a voice in his brain reminded him what sparked the interest in Bavarian machinery in the first place. “My initial interest in BMWs began in 1996, when a friend of mine bought an E36 M3 and began modifying it,” he reminisces.

    “At that time, there weren’t a lot of young people from my hometown who could afford that type of vehicle, let alone modify them. So the car quickly became a local legend.” Chad felt that it was the right time to grab a handful of that stardust for himself, so he did the decent thing and ordered himself a brand-new E92 M3.

    “It started as a Jerez black 2012 E92 that I E92 M3 planned to keep pretty much stock, but thanks to magazines, forums and friends, that desire to keep it stock quickly passed,” he laughs. “I began modifying just about everything that could be touched on the car, and spent quite a bit of time on the track. After about three years owning the car, however, it was beginning to show signs of wear from all the track abuse, and I decided to make a pretty dramatic change. So I stripped it down in my home garage…”

    Yep, you read that right. No mucking about here, it’s all hands-on. In fact, Chad’s proud to explain that he’s carried out as many of the mods as he was physically able to on both cars. But we’ll get to the F80 in due course. First, we have a stripped down E92 to deal with: “All the body panels were removed and the entire interior was gutted,” he continues. “I shipped the shell to the guys at Strassesport in Irwindale, CA, where they painted it in Audi Nardo grey – something I hadn’t seen on a BMW before. Once the paint was finished the guys allowed me to work in their shop putting the entire car back together with my own hands.”

    The finished product, as you can see, is pretty meaty: staggered BBS E88s, copious carbon fibre touches, Recaro Sportster CS seats – and the rear bumper’s pretty jazzy too. Built up by Strassesport, it has aftermarket diffusers and flares smoothed right in, appearing like an OEM factory piece to all but those who know what they’re looking at. Classy, huh?

    After a year, however, Chad got itchy feet. He was loving the street racer thrills of the E92, but he wanted to add to his collection. Something unusual, something different. And the answer came in the form of, er, another grey M3.

    “A unique 2015 F80 M3 came up for sale,” he grins. “It had been ordered from BMW Individual and no expense was spared. It was the first of its kind to be painted in Fashion grey; a colour borrowed from Porsche. The interior was trimmed in contrasting Fjord blue and Silverstone leather. It was probably the most expensive M3 built at the time, with just about every option – and of course all the extra individual costs associated with the paint and interior. I knew that if I was going to purchase the new F8x model, the car had to be something special, and I knew that this car would fit the bill.” And, naturally, with those old modifying urges now firmly in overdrive, this was never going to be a case of simply finding a wellspec’d car and keeping it standard. Just like with that schoolboy Cherokee, Chad needed to make his personal statement.

    Like the E92, the engine’s had its management breathed upon, while the exhaust has been replaced with something that allows the brutal motor to bark with more ferocity. KW coilovers offer a neat balance between track prowess and streetable durability, and a handful of carbon-fibre exterior mods really set off that Fashion Grey hue in style.

    “Both of these cars were purchased to be promotional tools for my business, MotorRennGruppe, a manufacturer of titanium wheel hardware,” he explains, and that’s the logic informing the look-at-me wheels on both cars. The E92 wears 18” BBS E88s in staggered widths, while the F80 has a set of genuinely mighty custom-built BBS LMs, the rears measuring an eye-watering and arch-busting 12x20”. Just check out those Michelins, they’re a 305-section at the rear. That’s supercar wide!

    “For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups that push the limits of the stock arches without making the cars look out of place or hacked up,” says Chad. “The E92’s E88s were rebuilt with new inner and outer barrels to widen the fronts to 10” and the rears to 11.5”, with offsets that brought the faces of the wheel nearly even with the arch lips. Then I knew I had to do something special with the F80, so I had a set of stock BBS LMs rebuilt to 10” and 12” widths. To my knowledge, this was the first set of 20” LMs done for the F80 M3.”

    What particularly strikes us about Chad when he’s describing his modifying journey with this grey duo is that it’s all very considered and thoughtful; he’s not the type to rush in and overdo things. Perhaps it’s the background of getting his hands dirty and doing everything himself, but there’s not an iota of effort wasted here.

    Take the engine tuning, for example. It’s easy to go a bit mad with M3s, but it’s good to remember that they’re pretty formidable in stock form, and sometimes less is more. “Both cars maintain stock engine internals, and were treated with tunes and bolt-on accessories,” he points out. “The E92 has a Stage II tune from BPM Sport, while the F80 has the E-Flash Tuner from ESS. Both cars have uprated intake systems from Macht Schnell and Maximum PSI, and the F80 has BMS charge pipes bolted up to the stock turbos. The ESS tune on the F80 bumps up the power considerably over stock with race fuel, and is extremely capable on the track – although I prefer driving the E92 over the F80 for the raw sound of the V8!”

    Ah, the agony of choice, eh? But despite the obvious similarities between Chad’s two M3s, there’s a clear ideological split: the E92 has been built to be sporty and trackfriendly, while the swankier F80 is the luxurious daily driver that just happens to have Continent-crushing GT potential as well as track-slaying physical drama. Between them, they tick a lot of boxes.

    So where does he go from here? “Well, I’d like a Porsche GT3 next,” he tells us. Yeah, he says that… but with two entirely different M3s to choose from – one modern, sensible and cosseting, the other an old-skool badboy track monster – we suspect he’s going to have his hands pretty full for a while.

    “The F80 is capable on the track, but I prefer the E92 for the raw sound of the V8!”
    “The car had to be something special… I knew this would fit the bill”

    “For all my cars, I prefer very aggressive wheel setups”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-E92 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E92 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series-E92 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 4.0-litre #V8 #S65B40 / #S65 / #BMW-S65 , #Macht-Schnell-Stage-2 intake, #BPM-Sport-Stage-2 tune, #Megan-Racing exhaust system, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.

    CHASSIS 10x18” (front) and 11.5x18” (rear) #BBS-E88 wheels with 255/35 (front) and 285/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot SuperSport tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers, #StopTech Trophy big brake kit with six-piston callipers and 380x35mm discs (front) and four-piston callipers with 355x35mm discs (rear).

    EXTERIOR Audi Nardo grey paint, OEM Euro-spec front bumper, iND grilles, bonnet vents and side gills, Mode Carbon GTS V1 carbon fibre front lip and side skirts, BMW carbon fibre mirror caps (painted Nardo grey), custom-moulded BMW M Performance spoiler, custom-moulded rear bumper with integrated diffuser.

    INTERIOR Recaro Sportster CS seats, BMW Performance steering wheel, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate and paddle shifters.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-F80 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 , #ESS flash tune, #Eisenmann valved exhaust system, #BMS charge pipes, #Maximum-PSI charge intakes, seven-speed #M-DCT gearbox.

    CHASSIS 10x20” (front) and 12x20” (rear) custombuilt #BBS-LM wheels with 245/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW-HAS coilovers, M carbonceramic brakes, #MRG titanium stud conversion.

    EXTERIOR Individual Fashion grey paint, Mode Carbon carbon-fibre Trophy S1 front lip, rear diffuser and M4-style rear spoiler, iND cosmetic package, modified M4 #BMW-M-Performance side skirts.

    INTERIOR Individual Fjord blue and Silverstone extended leather interior with contrasting stitching, BMW M Performance steering wheel, factory carbon fibre interior trim, head-up display, Mode Carbon carbon fibre seat-back replacements (front and rear), P3 Cars digital boost gauge, Pedal Haus pedals, heel plate, and paddle shifters.
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    DRINKING THE KOOL-AID 530hp #Sakhir-orange F80 M3

    It’s easy to go with the flow, isn’t it? Wheels, suspension, then hit the show scene. But for Sam Herz, it’s not quite that simple. He deliberately chose a controversial colour for his new M3 and everything just spiralled from there… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.

    F80 M3 530hp Sakhir orange Saloon

    Deep in the deserts of western Bahrain lies the Al-Sakhir Palace – a bold and imposing white colossus, brimming with Frenchinspired bastiles, faux-medieval crenellations, and more pillars than you can shake a gold bar at. Built in the late nineteenth century, it’s a place of serenity; it lay abandoned for decades after Sheikh Hamad died in 1942, and even since its renovation in the mid-1990s it’s remained a place of peaceful retreat…

    …Well, until 2004, that is. That’s the year the Bahrain International Circuit opened just down the road, and ever since there’s been a perennial soundtrack of redlining race motors accompanied by the ever-present whiff of race fuel. What price tradition, eh?

    And it’s after this effervescent turn of events that BMW has named one of the more vibrant colours on its palette in recent years: Sakhir orange. This, basically, is a colour for people who don’t muck about.

    The unimaginative masses may choose to spec their new cars in Resale red or Inoffensive silver, but there’s a hardcore of BMW fans who live for today, who couldn’t give a monkeys about residuals, who want their new purchase to be as in-your-face as it can be while still holding (perhaps tenuously) on to its warranty. Sam Herz is one such person. Just check out his outrageous F80 M3: it’s so hashtag just-ain’t care, it’s Sakhir orange on the outside and the inside.

    “It was a surprisingly difficult car to source in this colour scheme,” Sam laughs. We don’t doubt it – the ratio of serious enthusiasts to plastic posers who buy M3s is a figure the firm is naturally unable to provide, but we’re sure the former group is probably smaller, their whims taking the dealers somewhat by surprise sometimes. So let’s rewind to where all this began for Sam. It started, as you might imagine, with another BMW. “It really all stemmed from a poster of an E46 M3 that a friend gave me in high school,” he recalls, squinting slightly as he peers through a rose-tinted fug of ethereal mist. “I kept that picture on my wall throughout college as sort of a motivation – and, eventually, I got one!”

    You can insert your cliché about living out the American dream here, although the truth was that it was a bit of stretch; being a college student with an M3 meant that he naturally didn’t have a whole bunch of cash for modifications. But time marches inexorably onward, situations change as lifestyles evolve and nowadays the act of fettling hot BMWs offers Sam a rather soothing break from the go-go everyday of working in software, doing something we don’t totally understand with ones and zeroes. We think he might captain one of those ships in The Matrix. Whatever it is he does, he’s a smart cookie. That’s all you need to really know.

    “I have bad enough luck that I generally leave the big jobs to the shop,” Sam shrugs, “but I am looking forward to doing a little more of my own wrenching now that I have a garage.” Ah, splendid, he is human after all. Excellent. An excitable meatbag of aspiration, trepidation and enthusiasm, just like the rest of us. So, why an F80 M3, how did that all come about?

    “Well, as my E46 became more track focused, I needed a daily driver outside of my motorcycles,” Sam explains. “Previously I’d bought Performance Technic’s Dinanequipped 550i shop car – which gave me my first taste of the Dinan Kool-Aid! However, it was always kind of big and a bit ungainly. So I started looking for a slightly smaller, sportier sedan, preferably with a manual transmission, since I’d finally taught myself how to drive stick at the ripe age of 28. And after looking at basically everything in the segment, I landed on the F80. I’ve always liked the combination of the sporty and the practical that you get with the M3, and I find the new body quite striking. Also, after seeing Sakhir orange on an M5 I really, really wanted a car available in that colour!”

    This time around, Sam elected to purchase the car brand-new from a dealer, although his detailed and specific demands meant that this was very far from a case of merely ambling into a showroom, pointing at one of the cars and saying ‘yeah, that one please. Don’t wrap it, I’ll drive it home’. Not only did Sam insist on puzzling and slightly troubling the salesman by demanding an F80 that was both metallic Sakhir on the outside and stuffed with sumptuous Sakhir leather within, but he wanted Euro delivery, too. And if you don’t know what that is, here’s the principle in a nutshell: BMW USA offer a programme whereby customers get to meet their new car at the place it was built. Having flown themselves to Germany, they head over to BMW Welt where they’re put up in a swanky hotel, given a full factory tour, offered a variety of official ‘Driving Adventure’ packages, and then given the keys to their new motor and pointed toward the autobahn. When they’ve had their fill of mischief, BMW ship the car to the States to meet the new owner back at home. Brilliant idea, isn’t it?

    “When I first sat in the car at BMW Welt, it had less than a mile on the clock,” Sam beams. “I’d managed to swing things so that I could immediately take it on a grand tour of Europe, arriving at the Nürburgring with just 1203 miles racked up – just in time for that first oil change! Then there was a track day at Spa-Francorchamps a few days later, along with check-ins at both Audi factories, Ferrari, Pagani, you name it – I definitely put in the world’s slowest baby laps of every circuit but the car came home in one piece!”

    It’s an impressive tale of automotive swashbuckling but, of course, this has to be far more than a story of a man buying a new car and then driving it around. This isn’t that sort of magazine. Inevitably, Sam had plans to awesomify the F80 a little, both aesthetically and mechanically. “Actually, I didn’t at first,” he admits. “I sort of wanted to keep it stock-ish but then US customs somehow lost the car for about a month, and you know how it goes… I started getting ideas!”

    Having dipped his toe into the fragrant waters of Dinan with his old 550i, Sam was keen to replicate the engineering ethos of that car: proper, quality upgrades, geared as much for reliability as performance. If you do things cheap, you do them twice, and that’s not Sam’s way. This is why you’ll spot pretty much the entire Dinan catalogue in the spec list – the Dinantronics Performance Tuner Stage 2 hardware and software package combines with the firm’s carbon-fibre intake and an Akrapovič Evolution exhaust system to churn out a mighty 530hp. “I’ll be upgrading to Stage 3 soon, and adding a Dinan heat exchanger, too, at which point it’ll be closer to 550hp,” he explains casually. Man, he really did get into that Kool-Aid.

    “I fitted a lot of the genuine M Performance options, too, as I’ve been burned by the bad fitment of inferior parts a few too many times,” Sam continues. “And I also fitted a full self-healing clear bra so that I can actually drive the thing.” You know what he means here: optioning Sakhir orange is a brassy move, so you don’t want to then have the thing covered in stonechips and baked-on kamikaze insects. This outrageous paint job is the car’s key hook, and it’s for keeps.

    “The wheels were actually the hardest decision of the build,” Sam ponders, gazing fondly at them as if mentally validating his choice for the umpteenth time. “I was originally thinking of BBS LMs but they really don’t fit the lines of the F80. The HRE P40SC was in the running but it’s copied too often. But when IND Distribution showed off the first set of BBS FI-Rs, I knew that was the one!” The forthrightness of the rolling stock perfectly complements the bullish chassis, too. M3s are brutal in stock form but Sam’s sports Dinan coilovers, control arms and anti-roll bars, along with BMW’s own astonishing carbon-ceramic brake upgrade take it to the next level. Bit of a track warrior now, then? Something to show his E46 a thing or two? “Nah, it’s the daily,” Sam smiles. “This is California, so that means commuting to work and back; I just drove it to Seattle to see my parents. I took it to the last IMSA race at Laguna Seca. I even used it to carry all my stuff when I moved house. It’s a great car. I take it everywhere. And I often get thumbs-ups from other drivers and people coming over to talk about it at gas stations – I think it’s the orange…”

    Yep, we’d say that was a pretty safe bet. There’s opulence and motorsport intent woven deep in that Sakhir DNA, and a car with that paint is noteworthy enough. But with the care and attention Sam’s expended choosing its upgrades, and his relentless eagerness to use it as the M division intended, that’s actually about as far from drinking the Kool-Aid as it’s possible to get.

    “The wheels were actually the hardest part of the build”

    Stunning 19” #BBS FI-R wheels suit the M3 so well; below, various carbon fibre exterior additions.

    “The engine has been upgraded with a Dinan carbon-fibre intake and #Dinantronics Stage 2 software, which take power up to a mighty 530hp”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #2016 / #BBS-FI / #BBS / #BMW-M3-Dinan / #BMW-M3-Dinan-F80 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straightsix #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 /, Dinantronics Stage 2 hard/software, #Dinan carbon-fibre intake, #Akrapovič-Evolution catback exhaust system, approx. 530hp, six-speed manual transmission

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (f) and 10.5x19” (r) #BBS-FI-R wheels in platinum silver, 275/30 (f) and 295/30 (r) Yokohama Advan AD08R tyres, Dinan coilovers, antiroll bars and rear control arms, #BMW-M carbon ceramic brakes with sixpiston calipers and 414mm discs (f) and four-piston calipers and 380mm discs (r)

    EXTERIOR Sakhir orange metallic, Suntek clear bra (including roof and carbon-fibre trim), M Performance carbon fibre accessories

    INTERIOR Full Sakhir orange leather, #BMW-M-Performance steering wheel, M Performance gear knob, M Performance handbrake, super-cool floor mats

    THANKS Dinan Engineering, Jim Bustos at MMI Vehicle Systems, Brionne Go of Go Wraps, Chuck Thomas, Nick Owen and Brandon Watson at BMW of El Cajon, RC Levell
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    American F80 M3 in Individual Avus blue with lush custom interior packs a 560whp punch.

    KILLER INSTINCT 560whp Avus

    With ferocious looks, a stunning colour scheme, an opulent custom interior, and massive power, this awesome M3 is not a machine to be trifled with. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Mike Kuhn.

    M3 or M4? We wager most of you will be in ‘camp coupé’, the two-door’s sleek lines proving irresistibly seductive, with every design element focused on making it look as low and wide as possible, with more than a little success.

    But don’t write-off the M3; it’s no ugly duckling and the narrower body but identical track mean that it boasts swollen arches that are hidden in the M4’s wide bodywork, giving it a pumped-up look that makes other saloons cower in fear. And there’s something cool about ultra-powerful four-door saloons that surprise the unsuspecting with the sort of firepower they only expect from a coupé. Of course, it’s a lot less of a surprise these days as the ‘cult of the super saloon’ is now less of a cult and more a family-friendly club where everyone knows your name. However, the enduring appeal of the saloon, as sparked by legends such as the Lotus Carlton, Brabus EV12 and, of course, BMW’s own M5, remains. Just ask Shaun Fulton, because this is his F80 M3 and it’s awesome…

    Although Shaun grew up around Volvos, the reliable Swedish marque being his dad’s choice of wheels, the sole reason he’s not currently hauling Labradors around in a rapid wagon is down to his dad’s mechanic friend. “He was a Master Tech at BMW for over 30 years,” Shaun explains. “He would help fix our Volvos on the weekends. Every time I would see my father’s friend, he would be in the latest BMW and I fell in love with the brand at an early age.”

    With BMWs on the brain it’s no surprise that, after graduating and landing his first job as a stock broker, his thoughts turned to splashing out on an M3. “My senior broker kept talking about getting a new E92 M3 with his annual bonus cheque. Aspiring to be like him, I set my eyes on that same goal,” Shaun explains. In 2011 he bought himself a 2009 E92 M3 with 20k miles on the clock, in Space grey, with a six-speed manual gearbox. “I was so excited to get the car and achieve my goal that I ended up getting a pretty basic model with no EDC, and no M Drive. But I didn’t care, it had everything I needed: three pedals, Fox red seats, and a carbon roof! I was all set, or so I thought…”

    You see, it was the E92 M3 and its extensive aftermarket catalogue that introduced Shaun to modifying and, as he found, it was a very slippery slope. The final mods list for his M3 reads like your dream performance shopping list and highlights included: KW V3 coilovers; a custom 1M bumper; a carbon bonnet; BC Forged HB29 19s; and an ESS 625hp supercharger kit. So why on earth did he sell his fully modded, crazy-powerful M3? “I was undecided about what to do,” reveals Shaun. “I didn’t know whether to a) keep my E92 M3, which had grown to be an icon on the East Coast through Instagram and other social media or, b) part my car out/sell as is and get the new F series M car. At that point, I wasn’t entirely sold on getting a the new M car and it wasn’t until I raced against a few at MPact East 2015 and Slipstream RO2RO 2015 that I was sold!”

    A few weeks later the E92 was gone, sold to one of Shaun’s Instagram followers, and the hunt for a new car began. Shaun knew whatever car he got, it had to make a big impact: “I had a hard act to follow coming from my E92 M3 build so I decided to go big or go home: I made the decision to order an F80 M3. I ordered a Frozen blue metallic car with the six-speed manual and Sakhir orange seats. About three months into my six-month wait for the car, I got a call from my Customer Adviser stating that BMW had denied my individual colour choice. Saddened by this news, I was ready to pull the plug on my order. However, the wonderful service advisors at BMW North America really went above and beyond and, with three days left before the production of my vehicle, they sent me a list of over 200 BMW blues. In the end it came down to Macau blue or Avus blue. Both were colours that I had never seen in person, and both were colours that had not been done on the F80 M3 platform before. With the help of my close friend and fellow BMW enthusiast, Reggie, I decided on a classic BMW blue, and went with Avus. I was thrilled with how vibrant the colour turned out to be.”

    Having lost a 194hp moving from his supercharged E92 M3 to his factory-fresh F80 M3, it’s unsurprising that performance modifications were at the forefront of Shaun’s plans for his new build. “My plan was to beef-up the power output while not entering the detonation zone,” says Shaun. “I chose to go with Maximum PSI air intakes (custom painted Sakhir orange), RK Tunes three-piece charge pipes (also custom painted in Sakhir orange), RK Tunes cat-less downpipes, and an AWE Tuning nonresonated exhaust with the 102mm Black Diamond tips. For the tune, I went with a stack tune from DME Tuning and a Burger Motorsports JB4, so that I could really make the car a monster.

    “Because I had to wait six months for the car to arrive, I had the pleasure of amassing a plethora of parts in the meantime, so the engine build took me all of one day after my 1200-mile break-in service. The swap was done with the help of my mechanic, Angel Munoz, and painter Danny Hernandez in Philadelphia, PA.”

    The engine bay is really what sets Shaun’s M3 apart. Almost all engines these days are covered in swathes of black plastic and, being honest, we didn’t think there was anything that could be done to make the F8x M’s engine bay look interesting… but we were wrong. The combo of custom Sakhir pipes is stunning, transforming the S55 and making it look like the serious performance engine that it is. The addition of the Avus engine cover and gold detailing is inspired and the whole lot is topped-off by BMW’s carbon boomerang brace. And, as well as looking good, thanks to that comprehensive list of modifications this engine really delivers. It produces a massive 560whp, a huge gain over the stock power output, taking this M3 to the same sort of power level as his E92. However, according to Shaun the driving experience is very different. “It has more low end torque,” he says. “My E92 also had around 560-570whp but the way the F80 feels in comparison is night and day different. In the E92 you had to wind the engine up to around 4500rpm to start feeling the power but here the power comes on immediately; as soon as you step on the gas at around 2300-2500rpm you feel the torque and the power.”

    Picking out engine details in gold to match the wheels was inspired, as was the choice of wheels itself. Let’s be honest, you really can’t go wrong with HREs as they are among the top-tier wheels that money can buy, and they’d always been on Shaun’s shopping list. “For this build, I wanted to be the most noticeable F80 M3 in the game,” he says, “and I had always wanted a set of HRE wheels, the S101 model to be exact. I had the opportunity to pick a set up with brushed gold faces and polished lips. I knew that the gold against the Avus blue would really stand out.” It really is a killer colour combo and the style of the 20” S101s looks awesome on the M3, with the wide spokes allowing Shaun to show off his custompainted Sakhir orange calipers.

    But it’s not just the wheels, everything about this M3 looks so right. That’s thanks to the numerous styling touches he’s added. “The styling had to be classis #BMW , at least for this first iteration,” explains Shaun. “All the M3 badges were painted Avus blue while the front grilles were custom painted with Avus blue faces and gloss black sides. The side gills were touched with the same theme: Avus blue faces and gloss black sides. For the front of the car, I went with the BMW M Performance front lip and lower carbon splitters. I left the carbon alone and custom painted the polyurethane lip Avus blue and I custom painted the M Performance side skirts in Avus blue as well. For the headlights, BavGruppe in New York gave them a custom gloss black finish with M tricolour stripes. For the rear of the car, I went with the Mode Carbon F82 M4-style rear spoiler, and I went with the Vorsteiner rear diffuser. Again, this was all made possible by Danny Hernandez.

    “Finally, to protect the paint and all of the hard work we did with the colour matching, I had the whole car covered in Expel Tech paint protection film by Exclusive Vinyl in East Meadow, New York.”

    The styling is absolutely on point, all those details add up to make a big impact. It’s further helped by how well the cars sits over those HREs, with Shaun opting for the KW height adjustable spring kit, allowing him to retain the EDC whilst also giving him control over the ride height and letting him eliminate any unsightly arch gap in the process.

    If it looks good from the outside, you ain’t seen nothing yet because a vast amount of work has gone into making the interior as special as possible. “I wanted to do something to the interior that had not been done to an F8x model before,” says Shaun, “so, I reached out to the guys at ESH Upholstery in Maryland to help bring some ideas to life. With 1200 miles on the car, we pulled the dash, the door panels, the headlining, the A- and B-pillars, the rear deck shelf, the seat backs, the door pulls, the gear lever, and the handbrake gaiters out of the car. We went with a custom black Alcantara to cover all of these panels. For the dash we wanted to go for something eyecatching and one of a kind, so we went with M tricolour hand-stitching, which continues onto the door pulls. We also wrapped the seat backs in Sakhir orange BMW leather with Alcantara outer sections. All this was done in just 72 hours so the car would be ready for the Philadelphia Auto Show, where the car made its first East Coast show debut in the DUB show.” Considering how nice the stock interior is, the Alcantara has really taken the interior of this car to a whole new level of luxury.

    As far as we’re concerned, this M3 is pretty much perfect. Everything from that gorgeous colour to the additional aggression of the styling, the knock-out wheels, and that beautiful interior makes it impossible for us to tear our eyes away. That all this was accomplished in just two weeks is pretty mind-blowing, really. With this being such a fresh project, it’s no surprise when Shaun rattles off a list of money-no-object mods he now wants (“GTS Racing seats, upgraded turbos, air-ride…”). Neither do we raise an eyebrow when he says he’s already planning stage two. “As this show season is coming to an end, I am coming up with new tricks and ideas to kill the game next show season. Stay tuned to my Instagram (@M3NahRich) for more updates,” he grins. We will, because we can’t wait to see where this beast of a build is going next.

    DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six #S55B30 , #Maximum-PSI intake, #RK-Tunes chargepipes and downpipes in #Sakhir orange, #Burger-Motorsports JB4, #DME-Tuning stack tune, #Avus blue engine cover with gold highlights, #AWE-Tuning non-resonated exhaust with 102mm black tips, six-speed manual ’box, UUC short-shifter

    POWER 560whp

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” ET20 (front) and 11x20” ET37 (rear) HRE S101 wheels with brushed light gold centres and polished lips with 265/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, #KW H.A.S sleeve kit, custom painted Sakhir orange calipers

    EXTERIOR Full BMW M performance kit consisting of front carbon splitters, lower front lip, side skirts, all custom painted, M3 badges painted Avus blue, custom Avus blue and gloss black kidney grilles and side gills, BavGruppe custom headlights in gloss black with M tricolour stripes, Vorsteiner rear diffuser, Mode Carbon rear spoiler

    INTERIOR ESH Upholstery full Alcantara interior and M stitching including headlining, A- and B-pillars, door inserts, full dash, rear deck, door pulls, and gaiters, seat backs finished in Sakhir orange leather with Alcantara panels

    THANKS Danny Hernandez Paint Work, Angel Munoz Installation, Roman at Exclusive Vinyl, Alex at ESH Upholstery, Kourtney at Adam’s Polishes, Tom at BavGruppe, Mike Kuhn, Chad from Pristine Auto Leasing, Eric Keuhn, Reggie Balmir, and god

    “I wanted to be the most noticeable F80 M3 in the game”
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    / 2016 #BMW-M3-F80 Competition With more power, reworked suspension and cosmetic upgrades is this the best M3 yet?

    Upping the Ante The M3 Competition offers more power and rehoned suspension, but is it a winner?

    BMW’s Competition pack-equipped M3 has arrived but does it justify the £3000 premium over the standard car? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    There’s something about the launch of a new M3 that seems to encourage criticism and every time a new version comes to market there always seem to be those who can’t wait to fire a salvo across its bows. We won’t go through every single one of these, but the E36 was criticised for not being an E30, the E92 was initially lambasted for not being an E46 CSL and the hardest challenge faced to-date has been for the latest incarnation. For starters it’s turbocharged, which hasn’t gone down well in some quarters, and some folk are still struggling with the idea that the Coupé version now goes under the M4 moniker.

    While the new F8x M3 and M4 garnered much praise on their international launch debuts – at a race track and on roads that were warm, dry and relatively well-surfaced – their reception in some quarters, once subject to more in-depth tests in colder, damper climes (i.e in the UK), have been less enthusiastic. It’s probably fair to say that the car has split opinion – some love its low-down torque-rich turbocharged grunt, while others are blaming it for the lack of traction, especially in lower gears in the cold and wet.

    Others seem to put the blame down to a chassis that perhaps lacks a little bit of ultimate control, or that’s slightly lacking in finesse. You need the softer setting for the dampers for our broken-up roads, yet when pushing on it doesn’t provide enough body control, yet the stiffer settings can have the wheels pattering over the surface and losing traction again. The bottom line is that the M3 or M4 can be a handful to drive quickly in less than perfect conditions, but shouldn’t that be part of the challenge of driving a powerful rear-wheel drive sports coupé or saloon? Maybe it’s simply a reflection on a generation of drivers who are being brought up on point-and-squirt machinery looked after by an electronic nanny that will intervene when the driver’s talent level has been exceeded? Or perhaps more to the point should you really be driving that fast on a public road?

    Those are probably discussions for another day, but the fact of the matter is that BMW has already launched a revised M3 and M4, or rather launched a Competition package that can be spec’d when you order your M3/4. This was a pretty successful move on both the E46 and E92 M3s, although on these two models the Comp pack was added towards the end of these cars’ lives to help in re-establishing interest in machines that were getting a little long in the tooth. The current cars are still pretty youthful, so it could be argued that the Competition package is a bit of an early arrival.

    Whether its arrival has been brought forward is a moot point though, and quite frankly we doubt it – these things tend to be planned years in advance – but it’s here and after having done the best part of a 1000 miles in an M3 Competition we can report that it’s actually rather good. The Competition pack costs an additional £3000 on top of your M3 or M4 and it has to be said that you do get an awful lot of kit for your money. For the first time on this model the Competition pack comes with a power upgrade – not huge at an additional 19hp (bringing the total up to a nice, rounded 450hp) – and while the torque output remains the same at 406lb ft the additional grunt is sufficient enough to bring the 0-62mph time down by 0.1 seconds for both manual and M DCTequipped cars. Thus the headline figure for ‘our’ M3 with the DCT ‘box is now just 4.0 seconds. One of the changes for the S55 straight-six is a new bedplate design that’s been stiffened to cope with the additional output and this modified bedplate will have been fitted to all M3 and M4s from Mach production, whether equipped with the Comp pack or not.

    The most obvious external change to the M3 are the fitment of a set of even larger alloys – Star-spoke Style 666M as fitted to the M4 GTS but without the lurid Acid orange highlights – and these measure 9x20-inches at the front and 10x20-inches at the rear and are wrapped in 265/30 and 285/30 tyres front and rear respectively. You’ve probably clocked that our car isn’t fitted with these but we’ll get onto that in a minute. To go with the wheel upgrade are a comprehensive set of changes to the suspension which features new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars as well as recalibrated settings for both the Active M Differential and the Dynamic Stability Control in both the fully on and MDM settings.

    Other external distinguishing features include kidney grilles and side gill covers finished in Individual high-gloss shadowline trim, and this extends to the window surrounds, the mirrors bases and even the M3 badge. The exhaust continues the dark theme with tips in black chrome and the rear exhaust box to which they’re attached has also come in for some attention, being redesigned with a modified exhaust flap arrangement to bring out more of the straight-six’s vocal character. There are a couple of interior upgrades too, but we’ll come to those in a minute. Our first task for the car is to drive it back from Geneva where it’s been ferrying journalists around at the motor show and as a result it’s sitting on a set of 19-inch winter wheels equipped with winter rubber.

    While this might not initially have seemed like the best start as we’ll ideally be wanting to sample the complete Competition package, it soon looks like an inspired choice by BMW’s press folk as when we spear off into the gloom on a late night dash back to the UK the on-board computer is indicating that it’s minus four and the snow is soon strobing across the powerful LED lights ahead. In fact, in the week we spent with the car the temperature didn’t rise much over five degrees which made the tyre choice just about perfect.

    We did initially have concerns that the exhaust might make the M3 a tiring companion on a long haul back to London, but it’s perfectly judged – quiet and unobtrusive when cruising, but deliciously vocal as you sprint away from the Peage booths on the French motorways, eliciting a delicious rumbling on every up-change. The temptation to simply keep the throttle pinning to the floor and just flex your right fingers to change up a cog every second or two until you hit the speed limiter at 155mph is hard to bear and it’s possible we might have strayed a smidgen over the speed limit every now and then while doing this, but France has such draconian speeding penalties these days that the spectre of a colossal fine and a driving ban really does focus the mind, especially when travelling on your own. The possibility of being stranded on an autoroute in the middle of the night with an M3 for company and a French copper telling you you can’t drive it any more just doesn’t bear thinking about.

    Thus it’s a pretty tedious slog which in no way is a reflection on the M3, just simple circumstance. Spending seven hours in the M3’s cockpit does, however, allow you to become pretty familiar with its fixtures and fittings. There’s lashings of gorgeous carbon fibre trim in here and even under dim ambient light conditions it exhibits a lovely lustre and the leather-clad and hand-stitched dash looks superb too, adding a touch of class to what would otherwise be a large expanse of black plastic. The main change for the Comp pack in the interior is the fitment of a pair of lightweight front bucket seats which look utterly sublime with high backs and extensive wings to hold you in place. A nice touch is seat belts with the M tricolours stitched into them in a subtle strip along one edge. However, after a long time in the saddle those seats do ultimately seem to be a little lacking in lumbar support for your lower back and if you’re broad of beam, especially across the shoulders, you can feel like your upper back is being a little pinched by the chairs. They’re more comfortable than the fixed buckets in an E46 CSL, but not quite as comfy as the normal M3 seats as far as we’re concerned, but we should stress that this is something you’re only likely to encounter if you’re a larger-sized individual, and if you have a slightly dodgy back the seats won’t do it any favours.

    Once back in the UK and suitably rested it’s time to get to grips with the M3 in a more challenging environment. The blat back from Geneva has proved that it can still be a very refined and, seats aside, a comfortable and relaxing long distance cruiser. It also returned a smidgen over 30mpg on the trip which is pretty decent economy for a 450hp monster. But let’s face it if all your driving is going to long distance motorway slogging you’d be much better off with a 320d. Presumably you bought an M3 to have a bit of fun behind the wheel too, before cars with a human steering them are banned to be replaced by autonomously driven connected bubbles.

    There’s no doubt that the M3 can still dole out the driving thrills like few other machines. We don’t care what anyone says about the latest M cars losing some of their aural edge with the move to turbocharging, they still sound pretty awesome to us, even if the sound has a different character it’s not less intoxicating. Those delicious baritone burbles are there on the over run, and it’s tempting to accelerate hard to the redline and then just back off to hear the brooding symphony coming from the quad pipes.

    The M DCT transmission is still a great piece of kit with changes being of the seamless variety until you’ve really put the hammer down when you can still indulge in a bit of thumping between cogs if you like that sort of thing – a momentary lift takes the edge off the severity of the changes – the choice is up to you.

    But what of the extensive chassis revisions? We certainly felt they made the M3 significantly more confidence inspiring and even on winters the rear end seemed to be much more connected with the Tarmac. You can now tackle a set of challenging corners without the feeling that the car is about to get caught out by a sudden crest or dip and that the suspension will need to catch up with the car’s body before things are back under control again. The new anti-roll bars seem to help here and the way the front end resists the temptation to understeer makes the M3 a hugely entertaining companion on a spirited drive. Yes you can still have the DSC light dancing a demented flamenco in the dash pod if you’re not measured with your throttle inputs in the lower gears, but the trick is to either change up the ‘box faster or be more measured with your throttle inputs. It remains one of our favourite ways to drive fast and the chassis upgrades simply make it a slightly less fraught experience. The optional carbon ceramic stoppers fitted to our car are massively reassuring too, offering stunning retardation when required.

    We’re sure the naysayers will still be able to find fault with the Competition pack-equipped M3 and M4 though, but ignore them – BMW will never build another E30 M3 – it’s time to move on and get over it. For us, though, the Comp pack brings more aural stimulation, a slightly different look and an enhanced driving experience, especially when really pushing on – at £3000 you could almost call it a bit of bargain. Our only dilemma is which colour to choose…

    There’s no doubt that the M3 can still dole out the driving thrills like few other machines.

    The way the front end resists the temptation to understeer makes the M3 a hugely entertaining companion.

    TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #BMW-M3-Competition-F80 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW

    ENGINE: Twin-turbo, 24-valve, straight-six, #Valvetronic , double #Vanos , direct injection / #BMW / #S55 / #BMW-S55 / #S55B30 / #S55-tuning
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    BORE/STROKE: 84/89.6mm
    MAX POWER: 450hp @ 7000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 1850-5500rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.2 seconds (4.0)
    50-75MPH (5th GEAR): 4.2 seconds (4.3)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 32.1mpg (M DCT 34.0)
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 204g/km (194)
    WEIGHT (DIN): 1535kg (1560)
    WHEELS: #Style-666M
    FRONT: 9x20-inch
    REAR: 10x20-inch
    TYRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport
    FRONT: 265/30 ZR20
    REAR: 285/30 ZR20
    PRICE (OTR): £59,595 (£62,240)
    Figures in brackets refer to seven-speed #M-DCT

    The suspension features new springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.
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    The Art of Deception AC Schnitzer knows a thing or two about suspension as witnessed by its setup for the M4. The M4 is developing a reputation for being a little bit of a handful in slippery conditions, so does it really need more horsepower and other upgrades? Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory. #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport-F82 / #S55B30 / #S55B30-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #2015 / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS4-Sport / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #AC-Schnitzer-F82 / #BMW-M4-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW / #BMW-4-Series / #2016

    It’s quite likely that many readers of this magazine believe the BMW M4 is the finest incarnation of the mid-size German sports coupé yet built. However, it can’t be denied that amongst the car-loving community at large, the M4 has split opinion. No one questions whether its performance is adequate, or for that matter superlative; I can’t give you an exact figure off the cuff but I’m sure it completely demolishes something like an old E46 M3 around a certain German racing circuit, and many others, too.

    Let’s consider, though, some of the more esoteric elements of the M4 proposition. The power increase over the old E92 M3 is actually only marginal – an extra 11hp taking it to 431hp – so it’s the torque that’s making the difference, all 406lb ft of the stuff versus the 295lb ft from the naturally aspirated V8. And that’s not all. Forget for a moment the peak difference and consider where that number is now developed: it’s from as little as 1850rpm and is then held all the way to 5500rpm in one arrow-straight line. In one of the older V8s the engine needed to be turning at 3900rpm before the full 295lb ft came on stream. Quite simply, whenever you plant your foot in an M4, as long as the engine is working at more than a whisper above idle speed, things happen… and they happen fast. Gear choice is vastly less critical, and while I won’t get into the highbrow discussions of whether it has become all too easy and the loss of that gorgeous soundtrack, there’s no denying that on modern, crowded roads, the S55 engine’s on-demand haymaker is exceedingly effective.

    This sheer grunt does give the M4’s chassis something to really think about. On a smooth, dry surface the car is hugely effective, with EDC damping allowing for a fairly comfortable ride or ruthless body control at the press of a button. But on a cold, greasy, wintry B-road with all the irregularities in surface that are to be expected, it’s a car that can really bite the unwary. Left in the standard setting, the suspension can struggle to contain the torque if deployed clumsily, and sudden crests can make the car very lively indeed. I could probably add that the rather muted steering in the modern style doesn’t assist the challenge, either. In such a situation, you either spend a good deal of your time watching the yellow traction control light flicker incessantly, which is very frustrating, or DSC is switched off whereupon you’re really juggling with the steak knives set.

    That’s where this Schnitzer ACS4 comes in. I know, it doesn’t look like it’ll be the answer to this particular problem. Despite keeping an open mind the additional ‘aero’, tuner-style 20-inch rims, lowered ride height, talk of coilovers, plus a comically noisy exhaust threatens to overwhelm me with preconceptions of a negative kind. A ‘slammed’ aftermarket treatment might be the last thing this car needs.

    Then there’s the news that really sets the alarm bells ringing: peak power on this M4 has been raised to a massive 510hp. Whatever you say about the new turbo power generation, that’s a figure that any M3 driver just ten years ago would have thought impossible. Moreover, the maximum torque now stands at 479lb ft, which threatens to really give the rear axle something to get in a flap about.

    I travel to Schnitzer’s UK importer, Rossiters, near Kings Lynn, to collect the Austin yellow demo car, mine for a few days. Rossiters held the franchise before BMW made things official in the late 1990s, and then picked up the reins ten years later when BMW UK ended that arrangement. Today, you can order Schnitzer parts in 40 of the UK’s BMW main dealers, as well as 20 other non-franchise BMW specialists. This demo car features plenty of the Schnitzer goodies on offer: there’s the engine upgrade, which I’ll come onto in a minute, with a new engine cover for added artistic embellishment; the carbon fibre front spoiler elements, ‘canards’ either side of the nose and carbon rear diffuser (no aerodynamic advantage is implied or given); the ‘RS’ suspension kit; ‘export version’ sports silencer; Type V forged 20-inch rims with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (255/30 R20 front and 275/30 R20 rear); a fancy pedal set; and some stickers for the exterior. All in that’s £20,081.61 added to the price of your M4, including fitting. Let’s see if it’s worth it.

    The most exciting snippet of information I gather from talking to Chris Rossiter and Lorcan Parnell at AC Schnitzer UK is that their colleagues back in Germany have developed this kit over many miles of road testing, and that their mantra is ‘better fast not hard’ (stop sniggering at the back please). In addition, the finer points of the setup have been tweaked after driving on the lanes close to Rossiters’ Norfolk workshop. This attention to what matters in a road car and not a pursuit of lap times bodes very well already. Such thoughts momentarily leave my mind when the ACS4 fires up with a boom and idles angrily. The cat-back exhaust keeps the factory valving system, but when they’re open – especially on cold-start – it is mercurially loud.

    The modifications to the engine consist solely of altering the messages from the ECU. Schnitzer achieves this not by remapping what’s already there, but by fitting a ‘piggyback’ second ECU that adjusts the electronic information accordingly. It claims that the achieved outputs remain inside the limitations of the gearbox, and it supplies the car with a twoyear/ 60,000km warranty that sits alongside the regular BMW warranty for the car. This can be extended to three years for an additional £1082.02. Quite rightly, Rossiters feel this peace of mind elevates the conversion above some of the straightforward remaps out there.

    It may well have over 500hp but that’s not what is grabbing my attention at the moment. Leaving the small town of Dersingham it’s the ACS4’s low speed ride that I’m most aware of. With such low profile rubber fitted it’s no great surprise that the car picks out every last little bump on the road, which makes for a busy experience. This coilover option is the third and highest level of modification offered by Schnitzer for the M4, and forsakes the factory EDC dampers for a passive setup that is nonetheless adjustable manually for rebound, compression and ride height.

    Fairly soon we’re beyond the limits of the town and the speeds inevitably increase, whereupon it occurs to me that the jostling has petered out considerably. During my time with the car I become obsessed with this aspect of the ACS4: there are occasions when I think it’s too busy, and on a particular surface that it doesn’t like – one busy dual carriageway springs to mind – it seems to make a meal of a road that I’d never thought that bad. But overall I sense that while the suspension is working hard, it does filter out the worst of the movements entering the cabin. It sounds worse than it is: the intrusions banging through the M4’s structure and causing the odd rattle here and there, but my head isn’t nodding against my chest and my wobbly bits aren’t being, er, wobbly. I learn to live with it, and soon accept it as ‘normal’.

    The faster your drive the ACS4, the better it gets. And going fast is one thing this car does very well indeed. The sheer rate of acceleration is now shocking. It’s easy to get into the mindset where you work the engine between 2000-4000rpm and can’t imagine going much quicker. Then an odd occasion presents itself where the engine can really be wrung out to the redline and it’s simply biblically fast. Or at least it is when it can find traction. In the middle of winter, that isn’t all that often, it must be said.

    This is where the Schnitzer bits really shine. I find it most refreshing that the damper setting on the dash can be ignored, primarily because it’s one less thing to meddle with on the move. The real advantage is that as a driver, you learn the car, get to know how it will react in certain situations and under certain provocations. There’s something really straightforward about this car which, if you switch the DSC systems off partially or completely, means it’s nowhere near as scary as a 500hp coupé should be. Compressions and crests don’t hold any fear for the Schnitzer driver, the ACS4 piercing through them without any of the unsettling behaviour of the standard car, and even the steering seems to have gained a little more feedback, tugging slightly this way and that depending on the road’s surface.

    The ACS4 likes to go sideways, usually at every opportunity. This is one of those cars that can be made to lose traction at the rear almost at will, but once you’ve got a handle on what happens next it is surprisingly controllable. Time and again the big yellow 4 Series has me giggling with euphoric nervousness at having kept things facing in the right direction, but the control once the tail has swung around is just lovely, and it’s a great feeling to have it all hooked up on the exit of a corner just on the cusp of wheelspin. If anything, the ACS4 makes 500hp seem more manageable at times than the standard car’s 431hp. It’s worth saying, though, however obvious, that it would be foolish to treat this M4 as if it were a grownup Mazda MX5. If there’s one thing you’re always aware of, even when having a lot of fun, is that it is an inherently overpowered, rear-drive car that’s tractionlimited in bad weather. It’s unwise to take too many liberties with any 500hp+ car, however progressive it seems most of the time. An aural indication of this is the snort released through the quad tailpipes when you lift suddenly off the throttle under full boost. It’s an ugly kind of noise, akin to a lightning bolt cracking through the atmosphere, and it adds to the impression that this is one bad car to know.

    By the end of my time with this M4 it has really got under my skin. I’ve really enjoyed its transparency in a modern car market obsessed with modes and button pressing. Left in the normal drivetrain setting it’s a more refined proposition without the fake engine ‘noise’ (I think the straight-six sounds nice just as it is to be honest), and the benefits that the suspension bring to the body control and predictability of the chassis in extremis are really appealing. I’d do without the body addenda, although that may well be at the top of your list – these things are, of course, down to personal preference. I’d forsake the wheels, mainly because I’d love to try this car on standard 19-inch wheels fitted with tyres that have a larger sidewall to see what the ride and road noise were like then. The engine upgrade is one of those mods that once experienced there is simply no going back, and given it’s under a warranty I don’t think I could say ‘no’. I could drone on for paragraphs about how rapid this car now feels, but it’s something that has to be experienced to be believed in truth: it never, ever, feels dull. I’d leave the exhaust though, ostensibly to stay a bit more ‘under the radar’, and anyway, there are no performance claims made for it either. In other words, just taking the engine and suspension options adds around £7000 to an M4, and given the performance and dynamic benefits they bring, that seems like a very good deal to me. Sometimes, appearances can be deceptive.

    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK / Tel: 01485 542000 Website:

    TECH DATA AC #Schnitzer ACS4 Sport

    ENGINE: Twin-turbo, straight-six
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 510hp
    MAX TORQUE: 476lb ft
    0-62MPH: 4.0 seconds
    50-120MPH: 6.2 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)


    ENGINE: AC Schnitzer performance upgrade: £3641.04; engine optics package: £378.73; optional third year warranty: £1082.02

    EXHAUST: Quad sports exhaust system (export version) with black tailpipes: £3275.75

    WHEELS & TYRES: AC Schnitzer Type V lightweight forged alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. Front: 9x20-inches with 255/30 R20 tyres. Rear: 10x20-inches with 275/30 R20 tyres: £5949.66 (including wheel bolts and RDC tyre pressure valves)

    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer RS adjustable suspension package: £3473.75; wheel alignment: £144

    STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon fibre ‘canards’: £960.50; carbon fibre front spoiler: £1050.26; carbon fibre rear diffuser: £1319.50

    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set: £195.60 All prices quoted include parts, labour and VAT

    I’ve really enjoyed its transparency in a modern car market obsessed with modes and button pressing.

    It might look pretty standard in the interior from the driver’s seat, but the driving experience is anything but standard!
    • How fast? Looking at your performance figures for the AC Schnitzer ACS4 Sport I have to assume there is an error regarding the 50-120mph time? Unless How fast? Looking at your performance figures for the AC Schnitzer ACS4 Sport I have to assume there is an error regarding the 50-120mph time? Unless it’s rocket-powered it would have to be 16.2 seconds rather than 6.2? If not, then that means a 0-120mph time of less than ten seconds?!  More ...
    • While we haven’t independently verified AC Schnitzer’s figures Chris, we have no reason to doubt them; even in its standard form the M4 is a staggerinWhile we haven’t independently verified AC Schnitzer’s figures Chris, we have no reason to doubt them; even in its standard form the M4 is a staggeringly quick machine! Schnitzer tested the standard car through this speed increment (80-180km/h, which equates to 50-120mph) and recorded a time of 7.9 seconds, so with 80hp more we wouldn’t be surprised if Schnitzer’s ACS4 Sport was indeed that fast.

      It is an unusual increment to time, but if one has a look at quarter-mile times for the M4 many magazines have posted pretty impressive figures for the standard car. Car and Driver recorded a 0-100mph time of 8.6 seconds for an M4 on its way to a 12.1-second quarter-mile time with a terminal velocity of 119mph. With the additional power and torque of the Schnitzer car we reckon it’s probably just about spot-on.

      The bottom line is that cars these days are hugely faster than they used to be!
        More ...
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    OPEN SEASON #BMW / #2015

    Is the M4 Convertible as good as the Coupé? We get behind the wheel of BMW’s high performance drop-top. The M4 Convertible is a lot like the M4 Coupé but more, well, open… Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: BMW.

    Last summer I drove the M3 and M4 – I loved them both and now I’ve driven the M4 Convertible guess what? I love it too, and this is coming from someone who’s not a convertible fan. Generally speaking, driving a hardtop convertible with the roof up you might as well be driving a coupé and with the roof down if you have hair it goes everywhere, and if you don’t you get a burnt head. Unless you put the roof down in winter, in which case you look a bit mental. But I can at least appreciate why some people like them and if you like convertibles, you’re going to like this one, assuming you can afford it, of course.

    Everything that makes the M4 great makes its Convertible counterpart equally so. Under the bonnet sits the S55 (which you can read about in more detail in this month’s Engine Guide) and it brings 431hp to the party along with 406lb ft of torque, available from a mere 1800rpm. Mated to the M DCT gearbox, that means a 0-62 time of 4.4 seconds, which is a fraction slower than the Coupé, but not enough for you to notice from the driver’s seat. Emissions are a touch higher and fuel economy a bit lower, which you would expect as the Convertible weighs a substantial 253kg more than the Coupé, which makes the marginal performance differential impressive. It’s lighter than the car it replaces, though, which is good going.

    As you’d expect, performance is incredibly impressive though getting it all to the road via the rear wheels does require a delicate right foot – when I drove the M3 and M4 over in Austria I remember the traction control cutting in at speed in the dry, and on damp British A and B roads you can’t just drop the hammer at every opportunity. Feed the power in with a modicum of delicacy and the M4 Cab manages to deploy it pretty well, though with so much torque on tap you really don’t need to use full throttle to get up to silly speeds. The midrange is so strong that you find yourself unconsciously short-shifting and driven this way it’s actually easier to make rapid progress as you’re not giving the traction control a heart attack.

    The steering feels good, with decent levels of feedback and the adjustable weight means there’s a setting for pretty much everyone – I like the middle weight as you don’t have to wrestle with the wheel but it feels heavy enough to make you feel connected to the front wheels. Turn-in is sharp and there is ample grip at the front end, even on damp, slippery surfaces, and the car is a delight to drive on fast, sweeping country roads. The ride is always firm, regardless of damper setting, and the stiffest is arguably too hard for anything but the smoothest of Tarmac, the softest setting is probably best suited to soaking up the worst that British country roads can offer up and the car always feels stable and body control is excellent, allowing you to pitch into corners at speed with confidence, the excellent seats really gripping you in all the right places. The brakes are strong too; our car boasted the optional carbon ceramic setup, which offers big stopping power and does an excellent job of resisting fade. However, whether it’s worth shelling out the extra over the standard brakes depends on how flush you’re feeling and how hard you’re planning on driving.

    The extra weight of the Convertible isn’t something you can feel out on the road, certainly not unless you do a back-to-back drive with the coupé and even then only a serious fast road session would be able to highlight any meaningful differences between the two. Roof up, though, it’s basically identical to the Coupé in terms of refinement, noise levels and overall experience, which is what you want, really. Roof down you can enjoy that exhaust note which, though not exactly refined like that of the E9x M3’s V8, is certainly loud and brash and rather exciting; it won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s not bad.

    The M4 Convertible itself is, on the other hand, pretty darn good. It feels like the Coupé and the biggest differences are the ones you’ll see on paper. Out on the road there’s virtually nothing in it, meaning it’s fast, exciting and generally a great drive. It may cost £4095 more than the Coupé but the roof goes up and down so if you like that sort of thing, you should probably buy one.

    DATA FILE #BMW-M4-Cabrio-F83 / #BMW-M4-F83 / #BMW-F83 / #BMW-M4-Cabrio / #BMW-M4-Convertible / #BMW / #BMW-M4

    ENGINE: 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbocharged #S55B30 / #S55
    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, optional seven-speed #M-DCT / #BMW-S55
    WEIGHT (EU): 1865kg
    MAX POWER: 431hp@5500-7300rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft@1850-5500rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.6 secs (4.4)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS CO²: 213 (203)
    FUEL ECONOMY (MPG): 31 (32.5)
    PRICE (OTR): £61,145
    Figures in () denote #M-DCT gearbox
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