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    Dare to Dream 3D Design carbon-clad M4. Back in 2006, a group of highly talented designers and engineers came together in Tokyo to reboot dormant BMW tuning parts maker 3D Design. This M4 is the culmination of everything it’s done in the ten years since Words and photography: Chris Nicholls. Dare to Dream 3D Design’s stunning carbon-clad F82 M4 under the spotlight. #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-Coupe / #BMW-4-Series-F82


    The M4, for many, represents dreams. Dreams of status, dreams of amazing driving experiences and dreams of just looking at the thing and enjoying its muscular lines just one more time before walking away. This particular #BMW-4-Series-M4-F82 , however, represents a very different kind of dream – a dream to build a complete ‘tuner car’ that not only shows off your company’s expertise in designing a range of great products, but also demonstrates how well those parts work in unison when fitted together.

    It’s a dream Toru Endo and his team at 3D Design have had since the brand’s rebirth ten years ago. Back in 2006, they came in to kick-start what was then a bit of a lost cause; 3D Design in its original form had been making #BMW tuning parts (mainly suspension components) since 1998, but for various reasons the company had lost any momentum and, by the time Endo-san and his crew arrived, it hadn’t released anything new for quite some time. Obviously, job one after the takeover was thus to start cranking out parts again, but given the old line-up hadn’t been a great success, Endo-san and co. decided to expand the offering to include exhausts and aero parts as well, with an end goal of offering a large enough range of components to build the aforementioned ‘complete car’.

    However, because all the 3D Design staff already had many years of experience working in either OEM, aftermarket accessory or race engineering circles, slapping together a few basic designs and calling it a day wasn’t going to cut it. They vowed that, no matter what the development time and costs, they would make the best BMW parts they could, a philosophy that continues to this day. One minor detail was that they didn’t have their own manufacturing facilities, but to get around this, they partnered up with the likes of Arqray for their lovely stainless exhausts and BBS for their forged wheels, ensuring the final products were as high-end as the engineering that had gone into the design and testing. And of course, that all their products were made in Japan.

    Trouble was, even with a line-up that included wheels, coilovers, aero accessories, exhausts, a boost control chip and various interior upgrades, the staff didn’t feel as if they’d reached their goal of being able to produce a ‘complete car’. So they pushed on, and decided to invest more time and resources in a couple of other key items – a carbon intake for the S55 and, most importantly, full resin-infusion carbon bumpers for the M4. Now, proper carbon bumpers (not CFRP) may seem a bit extreme, especially considering they’re usually the first things to get damaged in a crash and cop quite a bit of sandblasting just from regular road driving, but as we said earlier, the company philosophy is to offer the best, no matter what, and given carbon would allow them to integrate aero elements better, as well as save a crucial 5kg at each extreme of the car (thereby reducing moment of inertia), it seemed a natural choice. Plus, literally no one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.

    Obviously, these pieces do not come cheap. The carbon intake isn’t even on sale yet in Japan, but M Style UK quoted us £6195 for the front bumper and £5695 for the rear, and when you throw in the £1482 Mulgari quoted for the dry carbon side skirts, just the basic aero kit adds considerable cost to an already expensive machine. Going down the complete car route, which adds a dry carbon rear lip spoiler, dry-carbon racing wing, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, coilovers, forged 20-inch Anniversary 01 wheels, a DME Tuning Stage 2 engine remap, Brembo GT big brake kit and all the company’s interior mods, will no doubt jack up the price to potentially terrifying levels, but no one said the best ever came cheap. And when you look at the fit, finish and quality of each of 3D Design’s products (the bumpers fit so well you’d genuinely think they were official Motorsport upgrades), there is no doubt that they’re among the very best in each sector they compete in.

    As for the overall effect these changes make, at least in terms of appearance (we only had a short time with the car and thus couldn’t drive it), it’s quite staggering. The stock M4 is a muscular beast, but the 3D Design version takes it up a notch in every respect. The cleaner, more integrated lines of the front bumper lead down to quite a protruding lip spoiler, and the fact the company has kept the lower half naked carbon really adds to the impact.

    The sleek skirts define the car’s flanks better and make it look lower than it actually is, while the rear end is just a whole lot buffer thanks to the large (but not ridiculous) wing, bootlid lip and again, that half-painted carbon bumper. Keen-eyed readers will note 3D Design has placed cuts on each side of it too, which allow turbulent air to exit the rear wheels better and should improve stability. One interesting side effect of all this extra aggression is that the car actually looks more like a sports car – something that should cheer all those who now consider the M4 a GT – and at least in this writer and photographer’s opinion, does a better job of integrating all that aero than the GTS. BMW take note. Finally, those wheels are just perfect against the Sapphire black paint, aren’t they?

    Inside, there’s less of an impact simply because there are fewer changes. Yes, the switch to customembroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere, as does the switch to 3D Design’s alloy pedals, brake lever and shift paddles, but it still feels very much like an M4, only sportier. In many respects, the biggest change to the ambience actually comes from the Stack gauges, mounted in a lovely 3D Design pod at the bottom of the centre console. These, while looking pretty modern with their machined housings and austere faces, are still very much an old-school performance car touch in what is otherwise a very modern interior, so they do stand out and make the car feel just that little less GT-like (again). By the way, you can ignore that little display mounted to driver’s right, as it’s just a small speed camera detector. Don’t worry, they’re perfectly legal in Japan, and sadly more necessary than ever these days, thanks to the growing number of cameras on the roads there.

    In terms of the effect the mechanical changes have, obviously we couldn’t sample most of those, but we have little reason to doubt the coilovers will benefit the handling, given 3D Design, unlike most of its Japanese contemporaries, designs and develops its coilovers explicitly for road use and thus makes them supple. (There is a remote reservoir track coilover in the works for the M4 should you want that, though). And again, there’s little reason to believe the DME re-flash, which, combined with the intake and exhaust bumps power up to 522hp at 6000rpm and torque to a stupid 561lb ft at just 2000rpm, won’t do the job in terms of making the car much, much faster, either. Nor that the Brembo GT big brake kit won’t do a stellar job of bringing the car’s speed down to normal levels, even after heavy track use.

    While we didn’t sample the power it helps provide, we can heartily recommend the cat-back mid-pipe and muffler combination in terms of pure sound though, as we did get to sample its sonorous delights during our rolling shot session across the Tokyo Gate Bridge. Like most products on this car, it’s not cheap, with the full system setting you back £6334 from M Style UK, but its unique sound may well be worth it, depending on your priorities. We say that because the 3D Design product is by far the most subtle of the aftermarket M4 exhausts we’ve heard, with a start up that won’t upset the neighbours, and an ultra-smooth timbre as the revs rise. Indeed, it almost makes the S55 sound like an angry, tuned S54 , which is quite a feat. If you live in Japan and are reading this, the only downside is that the system won’t pass the strict shaken periodic roadworthy test there, but if you’re willing to switch back to stock for one day every couple of years, it’s not an issue, and we certainly don’t see it being a problem in most other countries.

    So, having produced this ‘dream car’ and fulfilled the company’s original ambition, how does Endo-san feel? As he puts it, “we’ve never been about selling parts per sé. We’ve always developed parts with an eye to exciting the driver, whether it’s via improved styling, or upgraded ride, handling or engine feel. So when I got in the completed car the first time, there was a feeling of ‘we’ve finally done it’; that we’d achieved our goal of being able to excite the driver in every way we could”. Unsurprisingly, the positive impression continued when he drove it, too. “It’s now much more of a sports car to drive. The engine response has improved, as has the handling, so it now accelerates and points exactly the way you tell it to”.

    Having said all that, 3D Design’s journey towards selling a complete car isn’t quite over yet. There’s the small matter of actually building a Tokyo showroom, which begins in May, and signing an agreement with a local dealer to supply brand new M4s the company can add all its bits to as well. After that, it may look at expanding its dealership reach past the nation’s capital, but Endo-san says that’s not been decided upon yet. No doubt there are plans afoot for more parts for other BMWs too. At the recent Tokyo Auto Salon, for example, it had a few prototype M2 parts on display, including an intercooler, race-use exhaust (similar to the M4 one) and race-oriented coilovers, so that model may well be next. A slightly more affordable dream? Maybe. Either way, an exciting one we’ll be sure to keep track of.

    Contact: 3D Design / Web: www.3ddesign.jp

    The switch to custom-embroidered Recaro Sportsters definitely changes the atmosphere

    TECHNICAL FATA FILE #3D-Design / #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design-F82 / #BMW-M4-3D-Design / #BMW-M4-Tuned / #BMW-M4-F82-Tuned / #DME-Tuning-Stage-2 / #DME-Tuning /

    Engine: Twin-turbo, 24-valve, straight-six, #Valvetronic , double #Vanos , direct injection / #S55B30T0 / #S55 / #BMW-S55

    Capacity: 2979cc

    Max Power: 529.6PS @ 6000rpm

    Max Torque: 561lb ft @ 2000rpm

    MODIFICATIONS

    Engine: 3D Design carbon airbox with #BMC filter element, #DME-Tuning-Stage-2-ECU remap

    Exhaust : 3D Design cat-back stainless mid-pipe and valve-controlled stainless quad-tip muffler

    Wheels & Tyres : #3D-Design-Anniversary-01 forged monobloc wheels 9.5x20-inches (f) and 10.5x20-inch (r) with 235/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Yokohama Advan Sport V105 tyres.

    Suspension: 3D Design machined alloy dampers with 20-step compression and rebound damping control and 6kg/mm (f) and 8kg/mm (r) springs

    Brakes : #Brembo-GT big brake kit with six piston calipers (f) and four-piston calipers (r) and 405mm (f) and 380mm (r) slotted rotors

    Styling: 3D Design resin-infusion carbon front and rear bumper, cry carbon side skirts, dry carbon Racing wing, dry carbon bootlid spoiler, polyurethane roof spoiler, resin-infusion carbon mirror covers, body stripe stickers

    Interior: 3D Design sports pedal kit, hand brake lever, shift paddles, floormats, Stack gauge kit and custom-embroidered Recaro Sportster seats

    No one else on the market is offering such a thing, so it gives the company a competitive advantage.
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    Flat-out in BMW’s hardcore racer for the road.
    M4 GTS on track.

    The Beast Unleashed

    We check out the M4 GTS and discover if the fastest ever M Car was worth the wait.

    THE BMW M 4 GTS IS HUGELY, HILARIOUSLY ENJOYABLE ON THE FAST, OPEN TRACK


    We’ve been on tenterhooks for months now, itching to try out BMW’s latest limited-production M Car. We slip behind the wheel at the Circuit de Catalunya to see if it was worth the wait… Words: Kyle Fortune. Photography: Kyle Fortune / BMW

    Standing in the pit lane at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, BMW M president, Frank van Meel, laughs, pointing at the M4 Moto GP safety car: “No, it wasn’t a very subtle way of developing the GTS, but it gave us a lot of useful track time on very different tracks all around the world.” The matte black, roof-lighted safety car is parked further up the pit lane, the cars its development created sitting in a menacing pack waiting to go out on track. The lineage is obvious, and very pleasing, van Meel’s assertion that the tech demonstrated by the safety car would feature in ‘something special’ when we drove it in Qatar a little over a year ago is unquestionable.

    Indeed, stickers and lights aside, the new M4 GTS is a facsimile of the car that policed the ridiculously unhinged riding talent of the MotoGP grid in front of its global audience of 150 million viewers.

    This is a special M car, and one of which just 700 will be built. That alone is certain to mean a sizeable number are locked away in collections with little more than delivery mileage on the odometer. Shame, as the M4 GTS is all about driving, and in particular driving on track. That explains the location, BMW borrowing the 4.65km and 16 turns of Spanish Tarmac on the outskirts of Barcelona, as well as the GTS’s specification, which reads exactly like that of that safety car.

    Visually the GTS is distinguished immediately over its regular M4 relations by its more overt aerodynamic revisions. There’s a carbon fibre rear wing on its CNCmachined aluminium mounts, and an adjustable front splitter – here pulled out to maximum attack position – and rear diffuser all upping the downforce. But then you noticed them, didn’t you? At near the 190mph top speed those add around 93kg of downforce at the rear and 28kg at the front. The aero additions, like the bootlid and the unique new bonnet are constructed from carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) in keeping with the motorsport and M’s mass reduction goals. Likewise, the titanium muffler on the exhaust system, the lightweight 666M Style forged and polished 19-inch front and 20-inch rear alloy wheels, with their divisive Acid orange finish all help shed a few vital grams. Those orange latticed wheels are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres which have been specially developed for the M4 GTS, while behind the wheels are standard M carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston callipers up front and four at the rear.

    Choose the optional M Carbon Compound wheels with their alloy centres and carbon rims and 7kg more is shaved from the unsprung mass, some 40 per cent of customers lightening their bank balances by a further €12,000 for this option. Nearly 100 per cent of buyers have ticked the box for the free Clubsport package, it adding a roll bar, again in Acid orange, a six-point harness and a fire extinguisher. Given the rear seat has been binned off in the pursuit of further weight saving the rear might as well be filled by a cage, it fitting with the GTS’s more extreme, specialist track bias, too. Tipping the scales at 1510kg, all those carbon parts and the loss of the rear seats won’t win it slimmer of the year, but combined with the changes to the engine’s specification there’s a useful increase in performance. Not that you could never really accuse the standard M4 of lacking in performance, even if in other areas it’s always been more divisive, the GTS promises to address that.

    The familiar 3.0-litre in-line six M TwinPower Turbo with its two mono-scroll turbochargers sees its power increase to 500hp at 6250rpm, that peak power some 69hp more than the standard M4 and developed 750rpm higher. Torque too increases, from the 550Nm of the M4 to 600Nm (442lb ft) at 4000-5500rpm. That sees the 0-62mph time drop from 4.3 seconds to 3.8 seconds, top speed rising to an electronically limited 190mph.

    Achieving the improvements under the bonnet is down to the addition of water injection to the intake system. This innovative solution allows the 3.0-litre turbocharged six to work more efficiently at higher loads, the fine water spray being injected into the intake manifold plenum where it evaporates to significantly lower the temperature of the intake air. In the case of the M4 GTS’s high performance application the reduction in temperature is around 25 degrees. This has many benefits, it reducing final compression temperature in the combustion chamber, that helping reduce the risk of knock and also allowing the turbocharged engine to work with a higher boost pressure and with earlier spark timing. Thermal stresses are reduced across all of the engine’s components, right down to reduced exhaust temperature, that in turn meaning cooler operation of the turbo. The injection system itself only adds a tiny amount of weight under the bonnet, while the tank that feeds it is containing the distilled water being housed in the spare wheel well under the boot floor.

    With the water injection system working at 5500rpm and above it is possible to drain the five litre water tank in about the same time as you will all the fuel. That’s when driven hard during track use, or during lots of flat-out clear autobahn use in the motherland; more ordinary consumption requires it being topped up on average every fifth time you stop for super unleaded. Should the tank run dry, boost pressure is reduced and spark timing retarded, while the system drains the pipework when parked to prevent icing in the winter.

    No worries about icing in Barcelona today, though those water tanks will need topping up fairly readily. Climbing into the GTS I’m struck by a sense of déjàvu. The six-point harness, the figure-hugging Recaro fixed carbon bucket seat. Glancing over my shoulder to see no rear seats and that bright orange cage only enhances the effect, so does having to undo that sixpointer to reach forward to close the door. Rookie mistake, the doors pull themselves with simple webbed straps. The doorcards are lightweight and largely featureless. The dash is better finished than the rather workmanlike one of the MotoGP safety car, as you might expect given customers will be shelling out £120,500 to be one of the 700 owners.

    Purposeful as opposed to stripped, the GTS’s interior wears its intent obviously, but then it’s not devoid of luxuries. The full suite of climate control and infotainment is fitted, no blanking plates here, though those simple, lighter doorcards do without bins to chuck your wallet, phone and suchlike. The steering wheel is still overly thick in its girth, though the beautiful Alcantara finish and orange top dead centre trim is neat, Alcantara covering the centre console top with GTS script, again in orange, to the side of the air vents.


    If the bucket seats and harness are instrumental in giving the GTS a racer’s feel then thumbing the starter button absolutely cements it. The 3.0-litre unit barks into life with the sort of boisterous enthusiasm that’s usually apparent in cars on wheel stands as tyres are warmed elsewhere sat in pit garages attended by a team of ear-defender, team kit-wearing technicians. The titanium rear muffler is largely to blame here, the lighter weight back box with its optimised flow creating a metallic, rasping sound that’s as intoxicating as it is loud. I defy anyone not to blip the accelerator after starting it, the sound pure and authentic, and doing without the digital enhancement of its non-GTS relation. It quietens after the initial start-up phase, though selecting Sport or Sport+ returns it to its fullon slightly obnoxious mode. It’s just as well most GTSs will live at the end of long driveways of a handful of wealthy buyers, as early starts in a GTS would be a sure-fire way to create tension between you and your neighbours.

    Here, on a track, it’s absolutely appropriate, though if you’re attending noise restricted track days in it you might want to make sure it’s warmed up and isn’t in its more outrageous modes when being signed off with the chap with the decibel meter. The engine and visual differences are what really stand out, but then it’s the GTS’s unique suspension that are arguably the most instrumental in its change in character. Like the MotoGP safety car, only a few metres of driving reveals significant increase in the feel from the steering wheel. Like it, the GTS rides on unique suspension, the KW three-way coilover setup featuring mechanically adjustable compression and rebound settings and independent adjustment of the low- and high-speed compression.

    The anti-roll bars and their mounts are tuned to the differing output of the engine, as well as the more track-biased coilover suspension, while the steering system’s support mounts are optimised. M has also fitted a custom-designed, milled, swivel bearing – this allowing the use of the 9.5J front wheels. Increased camber stiffness and optimised steering torque curve all combine to create an M4 that steers with the sort of immediacy and clarity that’s just not apparent in the standard M4, or, indeed anything else in the current BMW line-up.

    The assistance remains variable, power assistance changing according to road speed, with three settings, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. That choice is true of the M DCT transmission – the GTS not offered as a manual – retaining the options for the speed and abruptness of shift as per the regular M4. The DSC remains switchable too, with its MDM and DSC Off settings, these, as ever able to be configured and programmed into either the M1 or M2 buttons on the steering wheel spoke. With only two sightings, three hot and one cool-down lap around Barcelona’s 16 turns I take Jürgen Poggel, head of powertrain, #BMW M division’s advice on what’s best around here and press the M2 for #MDM mode and Sport+ settings.

    Van Meel is in front, and the GTS he’s in isn’t hanging around, the two sighting laps brisk enough to get some heat into those Michelins and to enjoy the crackling, rasping tones emanating from the trick water-injected blown six and its exotic titanium exhaust. Spanish roads have a reputation for being smooth and flat, though whoever rolled the asphalt around this track didn’t get that note. It’s bumpy, surprisingly so, the GTS in front visibly skipping around on the less-than-flat surface. Van Meel later admits it’s set up a bit too stiff for the track here, but despite this the GTS is hugely, hilariously enjoyable on the fast, open track.

    The engine feels significantly more potent across its entire rev-range, even if the water injection only gets to work above 5500rpm. Up there it chases the redline with more ferocity, meaning you’re tugging the M DCT transmission’s paddle-shifters for another gear with ever-increasing urgency, before leaning on the excellent brakes and stabbing at the left paddle before going through the whole process again.

    There’s only a tiny real reduction in mass for that more potent engine to shift but it feels like more, the engine far more forceful, the effect undoubtedly backed by the significantly more vocal exhaust. For all the GTS’s changed character relating to the changes to the engine’s output and specification, though, it’s the chassis revisions that are the most transformative. The steering is quicker, its response, and the feel and feedback it offers making the standard M4 feel utterly mute in comparison. Those visible movements in the car in front can be felt through the steering wheel’s rim, it communicative rather than busy or distracting, the entire dynamic make-up of the GTS being one that’s obviously more focussed, to the benefit of feel. It’ll take a drive on a British road to see if it’s a bit too extreme, but the suspicion is that it’ll work well, though it might take a bit of fiddling with the settings on those dampers and coilovers to find the setup that works best for you.

    What’s clear is the increased detail on offer, the M4 GTS’s control and balance such that it can be readily exploited and enjoyed without being spiky or remote as the M4 can be – particularly at the extremities of its performance. In that respect it’s exactly how I recall that M4 safety Car, though then, allowed free rein to switch everything off and really play it revealed itself to be ridiculously easy to power through bends with as little or as much armfuls of lock on as you dare.

    With the slightly more restrictive ‘no drifting’ rule that’s been repeated many times before getting in the GTS that’s not possible today. That’s not to say the GTS doesn’t move around, indeed, in MDM mode there’s a fair amount of yaw before intervening, the GTS demonstrating its inherent balance and the forgiving way it transitions from a relatively neutral turn through to requiring a degree of corrective lock when exiting bends. Very agile then, with limits that are immediately apparent, the huge amount of feel on offer being the defining element in its make-up rather than the changes to the engine.

    Defining perhaps, but the GTS is hugely appealing, memorable, and hilariously fun. Which is exactly what an M car should be, not just one of the specials. Expensive, but exclusive, it’s a shame that so many owners won’t ever really get to experience the M4 GTS at its best, as that would require driving it, and driving it hard indeed. If you’re one of them, please make sure you do, and if you want to lend us the keys, you know where to find us.

    The GTS is distinguished over its regular M4 relations by its more overt aerodynamic revisions.

    Forged wheels save weight; carbon ceramic stoppers are standard; optional Clubsport package has proved almost universally popular.

    Interior might feature bucket seats, carbon door trims and webbed straps for door pulls but there are still plenty of luxuries, too.

    The GTS is hugely, hilariously enjoyable on the fast, open track

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4-GTS / #BMW-M4-GTS-F82 / #BMW-F82 / #BMW / #BMW-M4 / #2016 /

    ENGINE: Straight-six, #M-TwinPower-Turbo technology: two mono-scroll turbochargers, #High-Precision Injection, #Valvetronic fully variable valve control, #Double-Vanos variable camshaft timing, water injection

    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 500hp @ 6250rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 442lb ft at 4000-5500rpm
    0-62MPH: 3.8 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 190mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 33.2mpg
    EMISSIONS: 199g/km
    WEIGHT: 1510kg
    PRICE (OTR): £120,500
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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
    COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.2:1
    MAX POWER: 450hp @ 7000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 406lb ft @ 1850-5500rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.2 seconds (4.0)
    50-75MPH (5th GEAR): 4.2 seconds (4.3)
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 32.1mpg (M DCT 34.0)
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 204g/km (194)
    WEIGHT (DIN): 1535kg (1560)
    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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    SHARK TALE FERROCIOUS M4 F82 Super aggressive 500hp Laguna Seca #BMW-F82 . This aggressive M4 is an apex predator on the streets. How do you turn an F82 M4 into a shark? You paint it blue and make it really, really angry… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Jimmy LoBiondo. #BMW-4-Series

    Laguna Seca is one of those magical places that lifts the spirits of all who experience it, transcending its staid translated name of ‘dry lake’ by virtue of its swooping curves, and motorsport heritage that stretches back to the late 1950s. Even if you’ve never been there, it’s all beautifully mapped in Gran Turismo, so anyone in the world can attempt to master the near-impossible art of taking the perfect line through the fabled Corkscrew (er, provided that they have a PlayStation). It’s little surprise, then, that BMW saw fit to name one of its most lurid and boisterous paint shades after the place.

    “My M4 was painted Laguna Seca blue by the factory as part of its Individual programme,” explains Bill Jordan, the owner of the aggressive masterpiece you see displayed before you. “Here in the US, the custom colour choices are $5000 options, but I think it really makes the car stand out. This was an original colour offered on the E46 M3, so it acts as a sort of tribute to that generation of M cars – to my knowledge, there are only a couple of F82 M4s and F80 M3s in this colour in the US.”

    Bill’s knowledge is something to be revered too, as he’s so deep in the BMW scene it’d be hard to hoist him out without some manner of industrial winch. As his 65,000+ followers on Instagram will attest, here’s a man who knows whereof he speaks (find him at @william_jordan10 and see for yourself), and he’s got a solid collection of motors in his personal fleet to bolster his credentials: an Alpina B6, a pair of E92 M3s (one in Fire orange, another a 1-in-20 Frozen Black Edition, you may remember those from a recent #Drive-My feature), and a variety of non- BMW fare as well. There’s a Ferrari 458 Spider on the drive, a Porsche 911 GT2 RS, a Maserati GranCabrio, various Mercs… it’s safe to say that Bill’s got horsepower fever.

    Far from seeking a cure for such a harrowing malady, however, Bill’s revelling in it with his new M4. This is due in large part to having shipped it, all shiny and fresh, to the eager hands and fertile minds of AUTOcouture, whose glorious gold F80 we featured last year. “AUTOcouture has done extensive builds on several of my other cars, including my E92 M3s,” Bill explains. “They are great bunch of guys, and our mutual love of the brand and modifications has formed the basis of some great friendships. After spending two years modifying my previous generation M3s, I wanted to turn my attention to a new project…”


    Bill admits that it took him a while to warm to the idea of the new generation M3/M4, its twin-turbocharged straight-six being a tangible step-change from the lusty V8 of old. We hear that a lot. But you just have to be strong, push through the apprehensiveness, for there is sorcery and mystery bubbling up inside the alreadyiconic S55 motor. And it’s just waiting for the right hands to uncork the bottle and unleash the effervescent fury.

    “Yeah, I was reluctant initially,” he says. “I loved the look of the new M cars, and I knew that from a performance perspective the turbo’d sixes are superior to the previous V8s, but I wasn’t keen on the sound.” Still, there are things you can easily do about the sound, aren’t there? And Bill’s mind was truly changed when he happened across a Laguna Seca blue M4 at a dealer in Ohio while he was browsing online. Three days later it was parked on his driveway, such is the allure of that beguiling dry-lake hue…

    “The whole shop was excited when I rolled up at AUTOcouture in the M4,” Bill beams. “Since the model was so new, we wanted to set the bar high with the build, and we ended up benchmarking a series of firsts: the first ARMYTRIX exhaust in the US, the first diffuser combo setup, the first custom-painted seat backs, and the first set of BLK 503GTR wheels.”


    Strewth. That’s a whole lot of firsts! So let’s start at the most logical point – that polarising engine. Now, these come out of the factory staring down the barrel of 425hp, the brainbox force-induced N55 receiving an extra turbo, revised intercoolers, a lighter crank and more hardcore pistons to become the rorty S55. AUTOcouture took this as a starting point and stirred some Gintani downpipes into the mix along with that unique ARMYTRIX Valvetronic exhaust, a system that allows you to change its volume thanks to internal valves controlled by a phone app or key fob, connecting wirelessly to its own OBDII module which extracts ECU data and relays it, in real time, to your phone. Seriously, this exhaust is the way forward. Couple all of that with a DME Tuning Stage 2 tune and Bill’s wallowing in a meaty 500hp. That’ll help the M4 hold its head high among its supercar stablemates. A set of KW V3 coilovers, fully adjustable for height, rebound and compression, get the Smurf-like form hunkered down over the custom-built BLKs; as Bill says, this was the first set of 503GTRs to break out into the open, and they’re a strong counterpoint to the cartoon paint with their matte brushed gunmetal finish, all the better for showcasing the Brembo GT BBK behind. “The calipers were custom finished in Laguna Seca blue by iND Distribution, a leading supplier of aftermarket BMW parts,” Bill explains. And if you think his fascination with Laguna Seca blue is spiralling into obsession, wait till you get a load of the interior…


    “There’s contrasting blue stitching to set off the black leather,” he grins, a sparkle in his eye, “and the seat backs are fully custom; they’ve got EAS carbon fibre centres, with the outers being painted in Laguna Seca blue. The dash trim has also been painted to match.” And he’s not done yet. No, the bespoke ONEighty NYC headlights have Laguna Seca blue accents inside them too, and you’ll also find the colour highlighting the front splitter, the side skirts, and the boot spoiler. It’s the sort of finicky custom detail that would pass right under the radar of the average man, but for people who know their BMWs, every one of these touches is worthy of a robust highfive. This is a car built for connoisseurs.

    “The custom diffuser is special,” says Bill. “It consists of a Kohlenstoff upper and Varis Racing lower diffuser – this required a fair bit of fabrication by AUTOcouture to make the two pieces from different manufacturers work together, but the result is a superaggressive rear that’s a world-first!” He’s not kidding about the aggression – have you spotted that it’s got a rain light in there too?

    That’s proper race car bravado. And yes, it’s complemented by plenty of other neat carbon bits too – the front lip/splitter combo, the custom side skirts and the boot spoiler are all hiding that evocative grey weave beneath their shouty blue stripes.

    All of this aesthetic chicanery has endowed Bill’s M4 with the appearance of a sort of manga shark; look at it from head on and you’ll no doubt find yourself being intimidated by the jutting, angular visage that refracts the classic sharknose frontage of the 1970s and ’80s through a modern filter, like a 635CSi that’s fallen through a wormhole and got squished on its passage through the time tunnels. The broad, dark nostrils have clearly scented blood, as the vicious headlights narrow to focus upon you, its prey. This is the point at which you pray for that carbon tail-fin to be swishing in front of your nose instead of being stared out by a razor-sharp beast of the deep blue – but of course, by the time this streamlined fish has spotted you, it’s way beyond too late. You’re no match for its sleek fusion of biting fury and sylph-like slipperiness. This is a shark that knows its way around a Californian lake, channelling the rage of generations of Laguna Seca battlers to prowl the streets in search of fresh meat.

    Bill may have had his reservations about the M4, but it’s safe to say that he’s crafted something outstanding. He was right to persevere. He’d better just hope the thing doesn’t have his hand off…

    DATA FILE #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo #S55B30T0 / #BMW-S55 / #S55 , #ARMYTRIX #Valvetronic exhaust, #Gintani downpipes, #AUTOcouture-Motoring / #DME-Tuning-Stage-2 tune, sevenspeed #M-DCT gearbox. 500hp, 575lb ft of torque

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 11x20” (rear) custom threepiece #BLK-503GTR wheels in matt brushed gunmetal with 255/35 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, #KW-V3 coilovers, six-pot (front) and four-pot (rear) Brembo GT BBK with 380mm Type 3 slotted discs

    EXTERIOR Laguna Seca blue, #ONEighty-NYC custom headlights with Laguna Seca blue accents, carbon fibre front lip/splitter combo with Laguna Seca blue CRT accent stripes, 3D Design carbon fibre side skirts with Laguna Seca blue accent stripe, custom rear diffuser consisting of Kohlenstoff upper and Varis Racing lower, carbon fibre boot spoiler with Laguna Seca blue stripe

    INTERIOR Black leather with contrasting blue stitching, #Laguna-Seca-Blue painted dash trim, #Nexon-Motors custom carbon-fibre steering wheel with perforated leather and contrasting blue stitching, Laguna Seca blue outer seat backs, EAS carbon fibre seat back centres, carbon-fibre/Alcantara DCT console trim

    THANKS Tommy, Jimmy, Sam, Sean, Andre and the rest of the gang at #AutoCouture , to Nate and Andrew from iND Distribution, and to James Fleming at Classic #BMW
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    Bob BMW
    Buying Guide Why not treat yourself to a little bit of luxury in the form of the bargainous E65 7 Series? BMW E65 V8 7 series. The E65 was a shock when it arrived but it’s actually aged rather well and the V8 versions in particular offer staggering value for money as a used buy. Words: Andy Everett and Bob Harper. Photography: #BMW . #2006 / #2001 / #2007 / #BMW-E65 / #BMW-750i-E65 / #BMW-750i / #BMW-750Li / #BMW-745i-E65 / #BMW-735i-E65 / #BMW-740i-E65 / #BMW-E66 / #BMW-750Li-E66 / #BMW-745Li-E66 / #BMW-E66

    There’s no doubt that when the E65/E66 #BMW-7-Series arrived on the scene back in 2001 it was a big shock. Huge, in fact. The three generations of car that had preceded it had possessed a certain understated style – they might have been the all-singing, all-dancing range-toppers packing the latest up-to-date technology but they didn’t shout about it with the way they looked. So it was understandable when jaws dropped and tongues wagged with the arrival of the E65 7 Series.

    Whereas the previous machines had managed to hide their size with delicate styling it almost seemed that with the E65, Adrian van Hooydonk (the car’s chief designer) had gone out of his way to make it seem as big and as imposing as possible. And dare we say it, a little ugly, too. The kidney grilles were huge, the headlights gave it the look of a lugubrious drunk waking up after a particularly heavy session and the slab sides led to the famous bootlid treatment that was soon dubbed the ‘Bangle Butt’. Pretty? No. Imposing? Yes.

    But it wasn’t just the exterior that shocked the BMW world as inside there were so many new things to get used to. The handbrake was BMW’s first electronic effort – a push button to the right of the steering wheel on the dash and the gear lever had moved to the steering column… which made space on the centre console for the new, all-singing, all-dancing iDrive system. We’ve become accustomed to this over the ensuing 14 years or so but back in 2001 it took a little getting used to, especially as in its first incarnation the iDrive was far from intuitive and clunky in some respects – changing radio stations was a very awkward process for those of us brought up on push button presets.

    So far we haven’t really painted very positive picture of the Seven, but while there was much to confuse and confuddle new owners there was also plenty to like. Performance and economy were both pretty decent from the new Valvetronic V8s and there was so much gadgetry packed into the car that it could more or less do anything. And the best bit is that today you could be running around in one from as little as around £4000. There are cheaper ones out there but we reckon you’d probably be best avoiding the lowest end of the E65 market as you could end up buying a whole heap of trouble. The best news is that large petrol V8 engined limos aren’t in huge demand right now so you should be able to bag a bargain – you’ll struggle to spend more than £10k on one of these and that would be for a low mileage later face-lifted example with full history and all the bells and whistles.


    We’re concentrating on the V8 models here – diesels are more expensive – and there’s something about the E65 that really suits the urgency of the V8’s performance. If you do a high mileage it probably won’t be your cup of tea, but if you tend to cover a lower than average distance in your car then you do get a huge amount of bang for your buck with an E65.


    The 7 Series was initially launched with a 272hp 3.5-litre V8 and a 333hp 4.5-litre V8 and while both engines were more than capable of punting the Seven along at a considerable pace thanks to the inclusion of double #Vanos and Valvetronic, it was the 4.5-litre version that would prove to be the best option. The extra 61hp and 66lb ft of torque meant a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds compared to the 735i’s 7.6 seconds and the difference in fuel economy between the 735i and 745i was so small that the latter was the obvious choice for those with the extra £4000 to spend.

    Both cars were very well spec’d as standard and all V8s came with DSC, PDC, leather upholstery, 18-inch alloys, sat nav, BMW Professional radio and Hi-Fi speaker system, CD changer, dual-zone auto air-con, Dynamic Drive, electric front seats and cruise control. The long wheelbase Li models added selflevelling rear suspension and a sun-blind for the rear windscreen. There was also a Sport option, and while it lacked a body kit, it did include 19-inch wheels, Sports suspension, High-gloss Shadowline trim, Sports seats, a three-spoke wheel and matt Vavona wood.

    Naturally enough the options list was extensive and you could have spent the price of a 3 Series on upgrades, if you so wanted. Electronic damper control (£760), bi-xenon lights (£470), Logic7 speaker system (£500), Comfort seats (£1160 for the front and £1960 at the back), Club leather (£2860) and a rear entertainment package (£2250) gives you some idea of what was on offer. You could also have heated, cooling and massage seats, soft close doors, double glazing and a TV, too.

    In 2005, the E65 received a face-lift, which softened its hard-edged features and, to our eyes, gave it a much more pleasant visage, even if it did lose some of its outright aggression. The styling changes were subtle but made a big difference, resulting in a far more cohesive design, with slightly larger kidney grilles, reshaped headlights with floating angel eyes, a larger front valence and restyled foglights, while at the back the rear bumper was mildly tweaked, the light clusters now wrapped around the bootlid and a thin chrome strip ran from edge to edge just above the numberplate. On the inside there was nicer wood trim and revised iDrive with a reshaped, leather topped controller. The V8s were upgraded, too, with the arrival of a 306hp 740i to replace the 735i and the 750i with its 367hp 4.8- litre engine replacing the 745i.


    Over the year there were some minor spec changes but broadly speaking the V8 machines remained unchanged, although a sunroof became standard and Dynamic Drive was demoted to being an option during the car’s life. Eventually the E65 bowed out in 2008 to be replaced by the first of the F Generation machines, the F01 7 Series.

    Wheels, tyres and brakes

    The E65 came on a variety of 18- and 19-inch wheels; 17s were available on the six-cylinder cars only. 18- and 19-inch tyres are relatively inexpensive these days. You can get a set of four 245/50x18 Hankooks fitted for around £400 or a pair of front Pirellis for £250. 19-inch wheels? A pair of 245/45x19 Dunlop SP Sports are just over £260 and a pair of 275/40x19 Vredesteins about the same. Chinese tyre companies like Maxxis, Landsail and Davanti are on the ball these days – pay around £80- 90 each for these sizes and all three have decent wear, noise and wet grip ratings.


    Regarding the brakes, discs and pads can be bought from the aftermarket, with quality brake discs like Pagid being around £110 a pair and front pads under £40 for the set. Brake hydraulics are good, and even the ABS block doesn’t seem to give much trouble. If it does, forget buying new as it’s pricey but reckon on £250 for a good used one. Valvetronic engines use a diesel type brake vacuum pump.

    These can fail (very hard brake pedal) and a new pump is £373. The E65 was the first BMW with an electronic handbrake. They use conventional calipers and the usual rear discs with the handbrake shoes inside. A big electric motor in the transmission tunnel area pulls on the handbrake cables and this system is generally okay… as long as the battery doesn’t go flat, that is!

    Bodywork

    The E65 completely eradicated the E38’s tendency to suffer from scabby rust – it really is a superbly built car. Double glazed glass can sometimes suffer ‘milking’ in the corners and edges. Make sure the spare wheel well is bone dry. If not it could be down to tired lamp gaskets or the boot seal; both these can be rejuvenated by Vaseline, if they’re not damaged. The vertical felt window channels need a shot of spray grease so the windows power up and down smoothly, taking the strain off the regulators. The window regulators are quite robust. Door handles also need a shot of spray grease occasionally, too. Ensure the sunroof drains are clear as a blocked one will soak the front carpet, damaging any modules underneath, such as the DSC system’s yaw sensor (passenger front). Bonnet release levers can break if the release latches haven’t been lubricated.

    Buying one

    The first thing you need to do is to make sure that an E65 is for you. It’s a pretty large machine so make sure it’ll fit in your garage/parking space and that it’s not going to be too big for your needs. If you’re looking at a pre-face-lift car you’ll also need to make sure you can get along with the iDrive system – it’s much harder to grapple with than the revised version in the later cars. With the familiarity that ownership brings, though, we reckon everyone should be able to get to grips with it.

    Once you’re satisfied you still want one you’ll need to decide as to which engine suits you best – the 745i and 750i do seem more common than the two smaller-engined machines so you’ll have more choice with the bigger power units. But if the right car comes up in the right spec we wouldn’t discount any of the engine options. All are capable of covering ground pretty rapidly and servicing and economy costs hardly vary between the four cars. Try and hunt down an original brochure for the E65 and decide which options you really want – air conditioned massage seats might be enjoyable but you’ll severely restrict your choice of cars if you limit yourself to having certain options. And while soft close doors and auto opening bootlids are nice to have, they do add complexity – and potentially cost – when they go wrong. If your air conditioned seat stops working you can live with it, but if your door or the boot won’t shut, you can’t! In terms of cost to repair, the big ticket items to avoid would be electronic damper control, Dynamic Drive and self-levelling rear suspension. Otherwise the normal rules apply; look at as many as you can and get a feel for how they drive. Look for full history and evidence of recent expenditure and buy the best you can afford.

    Engine

    The original N62 was used in the 735i and 745 and it’s a good reliable unit. It uses VVT #Valvetronic technology yet is far less prone to the issues that afflict the four-cylinder N42 (VVT motors, timing chains, eccentric shafts and so on). However, it does have problems in old age. The first one is oil consumption due to worn rings/bores and anything that’s a bit smoky is best avoided. Cars that have had regular oil and filter changes as well as long trips won’t suffer from this, and we’d recommend an oil and filter change every year or 10,000 miles using a fully synthetic oil. The other problem is the coolant cross tube in the block. On the previous M62 V8 (E39, E38 etc), the tube was removable without a massive amount of dismounting but for the N62, BMW engineers designed it so the tube is sandwiched between the block and the front timing case. The official repair is engine out, heads and sump off, which is around 30 hours of labour. Companies in the US sell an expanding tube that requires around six hours of labour but the part is still a few hundred dollars to buy. I’ve managed to repair one of these using a modified version of a standard BMW pipe and it cost around £600 – far more cost-effective on a £3500 car.

    N62s also like to leak oil. The plastic cam cover gaskets are the main culprit but if they aren’t badly cracked or distorted then a new rubber gasket, some proper quality sealer and careful fitting can reduce or eliminate this.

    The later units on the 740i and 750i from 2005 (N62N units) are reckoned to be a better engine in terms of the bore wear and cam cover leaks but that’s just because they’re newer. The cam covers were improved in late 2006 but any N62 variant that’s been properly maintained will be fine. Head gasket problems are very rare. Vanos units can fail but they’re more reliable than on the four-cylinder cars; sadly though, the vanos units and VVT motors are not the same as the four-cylinder units and used parts are rare. The DIVA variable intake manifold system seems to be reliable, too, but most of these cars will now need to have the crankcase ventilation system replaced – the oil separator valve and its rubber pipes.

    No matter what year or engine it has, the car must run perfectly smoothly. A new MoT is a fair indicator that the engine is running fine, as any problems with over-fuelling, misfires or the VVT system not working correctly will result in a fail on emissions. A new VVT motor is £230.

    Cooling system prices? From BMW a radiator is £461 and a water pump £256 – pay £175 for a Hella radiator and £67 for a Circoli water pump.

    Steering and suspension

    Here is where money can be consumed. The E65 is a heavy car and at over ten years and 100,000 miles, you may well need to replace parts.


    The E65 comes with three separate suspension types: standard cars; EDC; and Dynamic Drive. The standard Boge Sachs dampers have a good long life and even at 100,000 miles they’re generally still okay. They’re £311 each from BMW and about half that from Boge via ECP. On to the EDC; many E65s come with it and front struts cost over £800 each. Dynamic Drive, though, is another can of worms. If its anti-roll bar motors start leaking it needs to be replaced, costing £1527. In other words, then, it’s probably worth avoiding. The original 735i and 745i brochures claimed that it was standard equipment but it was a common option on these cars. By the time the E65 was face-lifted in ’05, it was standard only on the V12 cars. If the car you’re looking at does have it, inspect the roll bars carefully for leaks and pray.

    The rest of it is down to wishbones, balljoints and bushes. After a slow start, the aftermarket has caught up with the E65 and you can now buy standard type front dampers as well as suspension arms, drop links and bushes from the likes of Euro Car Parts. You will struggle to find a servotronic steering rack though (£2000 new) and this is where breakers come in useful. Be aware, though, that E65s are not being scrapped at anything like the rate that the E38 is. E65s are still in demand and breakers are having to buy complete running cars to service the demand for used parts.

    Electronics

    This is the area where most of the E65’s ills will be found. Early cars were a bit of a disaster with a multitude of problems such as all the windows opening at once randomly and plenty of other glitches. However, BMW got on the case and worked hard to rectify this and these early cars should all have been modified by the dealers at each service as software upgrades came along plus, of course, warranty repairs. By 2004 the car was pretty much debugged but that’s not to say they’re perfect because no car of this age and complexity can ever be. The battery really is the life source of the E65. It has to be both the right amperage, correctly coded to the car’s battery control module, and it must also be in perfect condition. Anything less and the car will misbehave – even new cars in BMW showrooms that had been sat overnight with the interior light left on would be a pain until the battery had been trickle charged and any fault codes erased.

    There are many options on the E65 to add to the complexity – electronic damper control, tyre pressure control, automatic bootlid actuation, comfort access, soft closing doors, heated comfort seats, active cruise control, TV function and so on. The iDrive system was in its infancy in 2001 and it does take some getting used to, both if you’re coming from a pre-iDrive era car or regressing from a newer one. The CD player in the glovebox can fail and the sat nav is at the age now where a TomTom stuck to the screen can do a better job as it can often crash, as can the iDrive system, while the radio is known for just stopping dead. If you buy an E65, you may as well put your voltmeter on eBay because to fix one of these you need a laptop with both INPA and a clever 12-year-old to tell you how to use it. Do not underestimate the E65’s capacity for generating odd electronic problems.

    Interior

    Much of what goes wrong here is covered in electrics but there are a few titbits. Steering wheels can look a bit ropey at this age, particularly the earlier ones with the light coloured leather. Unless the leather is damaged it’s best to do any reconditioning with the wheel on the car as removing it will require the use of diagnostics to recode it, particularly the airbag warning light. The E65 was the first BMW to use the current type key and starter button and, as it wears, the key and steering lock can become recalcitrant. Whilst it’s possible to take it apart and just remove the steering lock peg, this is now an MoT fail as it needs to work. They can be reprogrammed with wider parameters to cure this, and Grosvenor Garage in Reading is adept at this.

    Finally, radio reception problems can often be caused by a failed diversity amplifier, and a new one is often a better plan that trying a used one – they are not as failure prone as those used on the 5 Series Touring, for example.

    Transmission and drivetrain

    The E65 broke new ground in 2001, having a sixspeed automatic gearbox with mechatronics. Mechatronics means that the gearbox ECU is combined with the valve body in the gearbox itself but despite the ECU being immersed in hot oil, it actually very rarely fails. The actual valve body unit can, however. On the previous five-speeder, the two halves of the valve block had a paper gasket in between but due to higher line pressure, the sixspeed valve block uses a special black sealer that is applied at the factory. In old age it’s quite possible that a bit of sealer can get blown out, leading to a pressure drop in that circuit. This will show up as a harsh shift as the ECU tries to compensate.

    A harsh first to second (and vice versa) shift is common so you need to see if a software update resolves this. Early cars did have a number of software updates to improve the unit but if the car has this problem then either another gearbox is needed or a new Mechatronics unit from BMW, at £3000. Other problems include the finned plastic sump/filter unit leaking and the only answer is a new sump – they aren’t silly expensive at £165. As for oil and filter changes, these units are sealed for life but a new sump/filter and topping up with the correct unit will do it no harm at all. The gearbox can also leak oil from the rubber gasket around the electrical plug in the side of the box and, as there is no dipstick, any oil leaks must be rectified immediately.

    Apart from these issues, the six-speed ’box is a good tough unit that doesn’t suffer from split brake drums like there previous five-speed ’box did. There can be problems with the electronic selector switch on the column but, overall, the transmission is surprisingly reliable. The propshaft and differential almost never give any trouble.

    Verdict

    Should you buy an E65? If you’re brave and like gadgets then go for it. 14 years ago, the E65 really was a tremendous thing and even now a good one is an incredible blend of dynamic ability, intriguing gadgets and sheer go. The 745i and 750i really do shift and the smaller-engined versions are not shy either. We think in time, the E65 (particularly the preface- lift) will become a cult car because it really did move the game along. As ever, avoid the cheaper cars that don’t come with invoices and a well-stamped service book – they are not worth having unless they’re cheap and you’re useful with spanners; if all else fails, you can make a decent profit breaking it! Good ones with 100,000 miles or less start at £4000 and if you’re less than confident about checking it out then getting a BMW dealer or specialist to put it on a ramp for an hour to check everything, including the emissions, will definitely be money well spent.


    BMW DEALER SPECIALIST
    OIL SERVICE £165 £175
    OIL SERVICE PLUS MICRO FILTER £285 £227
    BRAKE FLUID £81 £64
    VEHICLE CHECK £79 £79
    FRONT BRAKE PADS £207 £160
    REAR BRAKE PADS £212 £158
    Service prices courtesy of Sytner BMW Sheffield (0114 275 5077) and Grosvenor Motor Company, Reading (0118 958 3481). Prices are inclusive of parts and VAT.


    E65 7 Series – V8 models 735i / 740i / 745i / 750i
    ENGINE: V8, 32-valve V8, 32-valve V8, 32-valve V8, 32-valve #N62 / #N62B36 / #N62B40 / #N62B44 / #N62B48
    CAPACITY: 3600cc 4000cc 4398cc 4799cc
    MAX POWER: 272hp @ 6200rpm 306hp @ 6300rpm 333hp @ 6100rpm 367hp @ 6300rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 266lb ft @ 3700rpm 288lb ft @ 3500rpm 332lb ft @ 3600rpm 361lb ft @ 3400rpm
    0-62MPH: 7.5 seconds 6.8 seconds 6.3 seconds 5.9 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph 155mph 155mph 155mph
    ECONOMY: 26.4mpg 25.2mpg 25.9mpg 24.8mpg
    EMISSIONS CO2: 259g/km 267g/km 263g/km 271g/km
    PRICE (NEW): £52,750 (2003) £56,550 (2006) £56,950 (2003) £61,000 (2006)
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