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    Phantom Menace RS7 QS Tuning’s 675hp monster. This all-black RS7 is packing MTM upgrades and a solid 675hp and 860Nm – we went for a blast around the Sussex countryside to find out more…

    I’ll let you into a little secret… I’m a sucker for black cars. Over the years I’ve had five of them and I’m pretty sure that my next Audi will also be of a dark hue. There’s something about black cars that just looks so right. They give off a faint whiff of menace, which is often amplified by Audi’s recent talent for designing aggressive looking front ends. But when it comes to all out evil looks, then I think I’ve found the perfect contender.

    QS Tuning’s RS7 #Sportback looks mean as hell. Finished in glorious Phantom black, it oozes street presence and latent aggression. But this is no factory special. Lots of small changes have been made to create this all-black monster – including, of course, some rather lively power gains.

    The car is #QST head honcho, Kim Collins’, current daily driver, and as such had to tick all the boxes. That meant be rapid and comfortable, but still capable of delivering excitement. Having sold his supercharged RS5 and a tuned RS3 8V, both of which delivered plenty of thrills, the RS7 had much to live up to.

    But let’s start with the looks first of all.


    The front of any RS7 is pretty angry looking – all wide vents and gaping RS grille with those lovely angular headlights. QS Tuning have taken this further by fitting black Audi rings and painting the grille surround in gloss black. The front number plate has been removed, too (if the local constabulary are reading, it fell off, and is in the boot).

    Continuing the black-on-black theme, the window surrounds have also been done in gloss, and the windows have been tinted. To the rear, the Audi badge has been removed, leaving only the RS logo. There’s a set of rather tasty looking carbon fibre mirror caps, too.

    The paintwork has been treated to a full Gtechniq ceramic paint treatment. The idea is that it provides a barrier between your paintwork and all of the nasties that are attracted to it – stuff that really harms it such as tar, road salt and brake dust. The initial deep-clean and then application process took QST’s Alex, four days in total, but it’s given the Phantom black RS7 a deep, glossy shine that really pings when sun catches it. Best of all, as long as the correct cleaning regime is followed (including using the recommended products), all it takes is a blast with the snow foam, followed by a power rinse to get rid of any dirt and grime that’s accumulated. Then it’s just a quick dry off with a quality microfiber cloth, and it’ll be good as new. You can even do the wheels too.
    And so to the wheels…

    As an official distributor for Vossen in the UK, QS Tuning had access to an enviable range of wheels. They plumped for the rather delicious, ten-spoke items, finished in gunmetal. The 9.5x21in alloys look like they were made to slot under the RS7’s muscular haunches. With the MTM #F-Cantronic lowering module fitted, the ride height is best described as bang on the money, with just a whisker twixt arch and tyre. However, there is no catching or rubbing to spoil the show.

    Inside it’s your typical RS7 cabin, decked out in honeycomb-stitched leather, carbon inlays and a tactile, flat-bottom wheel. The heated seats are especially welcome during the freezing cold photoshoot.

    So there we have it – some carefully chosen upgrades have transformed an already aggressive looking RS7 into an absolute beast of a car. But wait – what about the engine? I hear you cry. Good point, glad you reminded me – because this thing is bloody savage!

    With the MTM M-Cantronic system boosting power to 675hp and torque to 860Nm, this RS7 is rapid – and they’re not exactly slow from the factory. Squeeze the throttle – in any gear – and your greeted by instant power. A mere flick of your right ankle and before you know it you’re doing some pretty illegal speeds. With Dynamic Drive mode engaged, the RS7 hunkers down and sharpens its responses, like a leopard waiting to pounce. Once you unleash the full force of that 675hp, you need to be ready, because it puts on speed with rabid enthusiasm.

    As we make spirited progress along the Sussex countryside, the woofle of the V8 becomes a howl as the revs rise, accompanied by a crescendo of delicious pops and crackles from the exhaust. As you back off the throttle, the crackles really are grin inducing and sound even better when you pass by buildings. In a tunnel, I imagine you may well have an accident in your designer jeans.

    The exhaust is a Milltek cat back and it really does make the most of the 4.0 TFSI’s potential. Even though it’s only about two-degrees outside, we have the windows down and sunroof open to listen to that Milltek crackling away. But it’s never drony or intrusive – it merely wakes up when you want it to – perfect.

    I recently spent a week with an RS7 Performance and was deeply impressed with it. However, with the optional extras, that car cost a whopping £105,000. If you wanted something similar, for a lot less, you could pick up a used RS7 from around £50k, and with another £10k spent on upgrades, end up with something not only faster, but better looking, too. QS Tuning have done just that and in so doing created what is arguably one of the best daily drivers you can imagine. That and the fact it looks so damned cool, makes it my current favourite feature car.

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION / RS7 675hp #QST / monster #Audi-RS7-Sportback / #Audi-RS7 / #Audi-A7 / #Audi / #Audi-RS7-Sportback-QST / #Audi-RS7-QST / #Audi-R7-Sportback-QST / #Audi-A7-Type-4G / #Audi-S7-Sportback / #Audi-RS7-Type-4G / #Audi-Type-4G / #Audi-RS7-Sportback-QST-Type-4G / #Vossen-VFS / #Vossen / #MTM / #QS-Tuning / #Audi-RS7-Sportback-QS-Tuning /

    Engine 4.0 #TFSI #V8 , #MTM-M-Cantronic module, #Milltek cat back exhaust system
    Power 675hp and 860Nm
    Transmission 7-speed tiptronic
    Brakes Stock RS7
    Suspension #F-Cantronic lowering module
    Wheels 9.5x21in #Vossen-VFS/1
    Interior Full RS honeycomb leather, carbon inlays
    Exterior Grille surround and window surrounds painted black, black front badge, rear badge removed, shortened rear number plate, front plat removed, carbon mirror caps, QST logos, full Gtechniq paint protection system
    Contacts QS-Tuning www.qstuning.com
    Left: 21in Vossens. Below: Nice cut down reg plate. Above: Paintwork prep took four days. Below: Carbon Mirrors.

    Above: Looks so mean without a plate. Below: Interior awash with leather and carbon. Top: QST’s Alex has his game face on...

    “In a tunnel, I imagine you may well have an accident in your designer jeans”
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    BMW F31 TOURING Slick, slammed 328i xDrive

    LOW LOADER

    A slick, seriously slammed and sexy Stateside F31 Touring.

    If you haven’t caught F30-fever yet, be warned this beautiful blue Touring is highly infectious. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: @vossen.

    Despite having been launched a good few years ago now, you could count the amount of non-M F3x cars that have been featured in DRIVE-MY on one hand and still have plenty of fingers left over for whatever it is you might want to do with them. Perhaps it’s the looks that haven’t won people over or it’s simply the fact that they’re still quite expensive to buy. We’ve had plenty of M3s and M4s in our pages, but the lesser F3x models remain something of a modified rarity. Seeing a nicely-modified example, then, is reason to be happy and when it’s something as well done as this tasty Touring, it’s broad grins all-round. As the disgustingly sunny photos might suggest, this Touring is not a UK resident.


    You will find it and its owner Kat Azadi cruising the streets of Miami Florida, turning plenty of heads as they go because this Touring delivers a tasty styling combo that’s hard to beat. Kat got herself off to a good start as an Estoril 328i xDrive is a mightyfine machine, the classic BMW hue looking very at home on the current models, and the 28i engine is both punchy and decent on fuel, making it a great all-rounder.

    Of course, it’s practical too and that was part of the reason why Kat was drawn to the 3 Series wagon, as she explains: “I visited Europe in 2014 and caught the wagon or as you call it ‘estate’ bug! In the USA, it’s very hard to find a wagon and there are even fewer choices if you want a luxury brand. After owning sedans previously, I wanted a car with more cargo room for my dogs and moving around merchandise for the Vossen store. I travel frequently to car shows, events and visit vendors on a regular basis with my boot filled! I didn’t want a SUV and in the USA wagon choices are pretty limited.


    BMW really has a winner with the 328i xDrive wagon and the Estoril blue colour was a must-have with the M Sport package! After a nationwide search, we found three Estoril blue M Sport Tourings in the USA: one in California, one in Georgia and one in Colorado. My dealership, Braman BMW, negotiated a swap and I got my car sight unseen from Colorado. The funny thing is that with Colorado being a colder part of the USA my BMW has the Cold Weather Package, which I will never use in Miami!”


    Working as Vossen’s merchandise store director means that Kat is surrounded by car people and, working in that sort of environment, it would be impossible to own a standard car. Indeed, she’s no stranger to the pleasures of modified metal, having previously owned a 2013 Lexus GS, which she treated to some Vossen wheels (natch), RS-R suspension, an F-Sport front bumper and a mint wrap (literally) for good measure. The chances of the F31 remaining standard were therefore about zero…

    Plans started simply enough, with Kat obviously deciding a set of Vossens were needed along with a drop in ride height. However, after a bit of internet research and talking to co-workers, she realised just what was available out there and it would have been rude not to indulge a bit…

    Kat’s goal was to keep the car looking clean and subtle but at the same time make sure it stood out from the crowd. We’d say she’s definitely stuck to her brief and nailed it with the end result. The car is subtle, but once the wheels grab your attention (and they most definitely will) you’ll spot the changes that help make this Touring stand out. Rolling on Vossens was a given, but Kat was spoiled for choice when it came to choosing the right rims for her ride. “Having rocked a few different sets of Vossen wheels, I really wanted something custom this time around,” she says, “so I went with a set of new Vossen Forged LC Series wheels. The model is LC-107 in a colour called Patina gold in 9x20-inch and 10x20- inch. The team engineers the wheels for each specific vehicle so they put my car on the lift and took precise measurements before making their recommendation.”

    The single-piece ten-spoke wheels look fantastic; with that wide edge running round the lip they’re just that little bit different to traditional designs, and the 20s are the perfect size for the F31 Touring. Kat’s choice of hue sits perfectly against the Estoril bodywork, Subaru having taught us many moons ago that blue and gold really complement each other. The faces of the wheels are brushed, with polished detailing along the edges of the spokes. Multi-piece offerings might be the darlings of the modified scene, but when it comes to single-piece wheels Vossen knows its onions.

    “They are wrapped in 245/35 and 275/30 Toyos,” says Kat, choosing to have some rubber on the road rather than stretch, “and I love how the Brembo brakes are framed behind these wheels!” Because the calipers aren’t painted a lairy shade it’s easy to miss them, but this Touring is rocking a Brembo GT BBK front and rear, with heavy-duty calipers clamping massive 381mm crossdrilled discs up front and 343mm items at the back.

    That might seem like overkill but with the high levels grip and traction, this Touring can be hustled along at a fair old pace and, with a turbocharged engine that’s responsive to tuning, Kat’s running a little more than stock power from her 328. “I had a Dynamic Turbo engine tune,” says Kat, “and it’s now making 310hp and 330lb ft of torque up from the stock 240hp and 258lb ft. I’m very happy with the results, the car now is noticeably quicker with hardly any difference in mpg.”

    With brakes, wheels and performance taken care of, the suspension needed attention and Kat knew exactly what she wanted: a fully adjustable setup. For this, she turned to KW and went with a V3 coilover kit. Judging by the pictures, the suspension has been wound down to within an inch of its life, as there’s nary a gap between the tops of the tyres and the bottoms of the arches, the 20-inch Vossens tucking right up and giving this Touring an awesome look.


    The final part was sorting the styling and here too Kat had a clear idea of what she wanted. “The idea was to make my wagon stand out without screaming ‘look at me!’ in regards to exterior modifications. After reviewing multiple body kits I felt the BMW M Performance kit really complemented the stock M Sport body. This included a new front bumper, side skirts and a rear diffuser.

    “After going back and forth over the big rear wing, I decided against it. Dynamic Turbo installed the parts which were very easy to do in regards to the front bumper and side skirts. Since I had a GT Haus Meisterschaft exhaust with quad pipes the install didn’t go as planned, as Dynamic Turbo had to make some modifications to make it work. But the team there managed it and it came out amazing and I now have the only 328i xDrive with the GT Haus Meisterschaft quad exhaust! It is very loud which I love, but so I don’t want to wake the neighbours up, I ordered it with the GTC valve control which allows me to open and close the valves.” The styling is subtle, but it definitely gives the Touring more aggression and presence, plus the quad exhaust looks awesome tucked up in the rear valance.


    While Kat’s kept her daily relatively sensible in some respects, she’s not compromised when it comes to ride height, picking the right wheels or the volume of her exhaust and she’s ended up with an exceedingly smart 3 Series Touring that looks good and does everything she needs. She’s not done with it yet, either, and like all of us can’t help but wonder about what’s next… “If money were no object I would bag my car on AccuAir and maybe get it painted matt blue, but I’m thinking of possibly wrapping it with the new matt clear colour that is out. And of course treating it to another set of Vossen Forged Wheels,” she laughs and hey, why not? Whatever she decides to do, things will only get even get better for this tidy Touring.

    DATA FILE F31 #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring / #BMW-F31 / #2016 / #BMW / #BMW-328i-xDrive-Touring-F31 / #BMW-328i-Touring / #BMW-328i-Touring-F31 / #Vossen-Forged-LC-107 / #Vossen / #BMW-F31-Vossen /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo #N20B20 / #N20 / #BMW-N20 , #Dynamic-Turbo engine tune, GT-Haus-Meisterschaft-GTC exhaust with quad Pipes and valve control, eight-speed automatic gearbox. 310hp, 330lb ft

    CHASSIS 9x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) #Vossen-Forged-LC-107 wheels in Patina gold finish with brushed faces and polished windows and barrels with 245/35 (front) and 275/30 (rear) Toyo T1 Sport tyres, #KW-Variant-3 coilovers, #Brembo GT #Brembo-BBK (front and rear) with 381mm cross-drilled discs (front) and 343mm cross-drilled discs (rear)

    EXTERIOR Estoril blue, BMW M Performance kit consisting of front bumper, side skirts and rear diffuser

    INTERIOR Stock black M Sport interior with blue trim

    THANKS Jav and Mike at Vossen, Jose and Chris at Dynamic Turbo, Greg at Race Technologies, Braman #BMW and my wonderful doggies, Jetson and Charlie
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    I was talking to a fellow motoring journalist the other day about our respective jobs. I mentioned my E39 and the shows I go to and she was impressed by what she called my ‘level of dedication’. The thing is, it doesn’t feel like that to me and it got me thinking that perhaps that’s the difference between motoring journalists working on mainstream titles and those of us writing for specialised magazines like this one. Obviously, the people who write for the big, multi-make titles love cars, but pick up a copy of PBMW or PVW or Banzai and you know you’re getting a magazine written by people that live what they write about. We’ve got project cars and we go through the same highs and lows as you do; we go to shows, we chat about cars with friends, we do the same things you do. If you see me at a show and you want to talk to me about wheel nuts or air-ride or even what detailing spray I’m using, I will happily have that conversation with you because those are all things I’m interested in. Perhaps knowing that you might now avoid talking to me at a show in case I do decide to start having an in-depth conversation with you about wheel nuts, but my point is that we’re at shows not because we have to be, no one pays us to go, we go because we enjoy going. We want to show our cars off just as much as you do and we want to see what you guys have been busy building. We’re not just doing a job, we’re living our passion and that’s the gospel truth.

    So, to this month’s passion-filled pages, and we’ve got a real pick ’n’ mix bunch of goodies for you. If your views on more-doors are that they allow the acquisition and transportation of larger quantities of ladies, then you’ll surely appreciate our spectacular bagged E60 from the States and fans of practical motoring will enjoy the Vossen-wheeled #BMW-F31 / #BMW / #2016 we’ve got for you. There are also no less than three E30s to enjoy this month and all of them are very different: there’s the Chevy V8-equipped twin-turbo beast gracing our cover, an obscenely low body-dropped E30 Cab and a retro-tastic S50 swapped two-door as well. So, sit back, relax and let all that modified #BMW goodness wash over you and we’ll see you, squeaky clean, next month! #Vossen / #BMW-F31-Vossen /
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    Breaking the Mould / #Vauxhall / #Opel / #2015
    ASTRA VXR-R
    Nope, we haven’t made a typo, this really is a VXR-R… find out why in the feature.

    HOT RIDE: ASTRA VXR
    WORDS JARKLE PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS WALLBANK

    AN ASTRA VXR WITH AIR RIDE, 20IN VOSSENS AND A HEALTHY 321BHP...

    It took Vauxhall a long time to make their mind up regarding their range-topping brand. While the boys in Essex decided that ‘RS’ should be their undisputed halo range in the ‘60s, Luton took rather longer and straight up dithered. Between the ‘70s and the early part of the 21st century we were treated to HSs, HSRs, SRis, GSis, Turbos and finally, the VXR. This indecision undoubtedly enabled Ford to steal a march on Vauxhall, and it’s only relatively recently that the latter’s VXR range has begun to approach the levels of appreciation enjoyed by other comparable brands. Still, the VXR brand has delivered some seriously cool cars over the last decade and a bit, everything from bonkers re-badged Holdens to stupidly powerful family vans (take a bow Zafira VXR), and it just keeps on delivering.

    Top of the tree has to be the latest Astra J VXR, a car that bristles with tech, looks fantastic, re-defines what a performance front-wheel drive Vauxhall can do, and can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Focus RS. Then we have the example here, a car bought brand new by Bryn Williams in 2014.

    “I’m known for driving my cars pretty hard and for going through a fair few gearboxes,” Bryn explains with a grin. “My last car was a Corsa SRi that I slowly converted to full VXR spec and I destroyed a fair few M32 gearboxes on that, so I wanted a car with a warranty.”

    Various Corsas were weighed up and rejected before Bryn finally settled on the all new VXR, put his deposit down, jumped in the car and drove direct to Thorney Sport to well and truly void said warranty. What started out with a discussion about the pros and cons of Stage 1 tuning ended with Bryn driving off in an Astra boasting one of the firm’s Stage 3 VXR-R packages. While this doesn’t involve any alteration of the internals or turbo, it does see the Astra given a stage 3 remap, induction work and free-flowing exhaust system, all of which left Bryn with a handy 307bhp, a figure that jumped to 321bhp once the box-fresh A20NFT had loosened up a bit (just over 60 miles had clicked over on the odometer at the time of the VXR-R conversion). “I’d be lying if I said I noticed a massive improvement in performance after all that work, mainly as I’d driven the car fairly conservatively up until then, but in the months since it’s really come alive,” Bryn explains. “350bhp is on the cards for next year, possibly more if I opt to fi t a larger turbo...”


    The VXR-R package came with a whole host of badges, stickers and wheel options, though this latter aspect of the kit posed something of a conundrum; the wheels offered were performance based (Team Dynamics Pro Race being the most popular), and while there’s no doubt that these are fi ne, lightweight alloys in their own right, they aren’t exactly a rare sight on bright blue Astra VXRs. In the end Bryn bit the bullet and fitted some Team Dynamics (though they weren’t Pro Race 1.2s) and ran them for several months, only deciding that they needed to go when he took the fairly drastic step of fitting an air suspension kit to the car.

    “That wasn’t a decision I took lightly but I can honestly say it’s been one of the best modifications on the car, and one that’s made it a whole lot more usable.”


    First, a bit of background. A set of posh Bilsteins found their way under the arches within weeks of Bryn’s name appearing on the V5, all wound down about as far they could go with the ‘helper’ springs removed. The resulting ride was, perhaps unsurprisingly, crashy and deeply uncomfortable. Throw in the fact that he kept gouging his splitter on all but the most pathetic of speed bumps and it becomes all too clear why Bryn eventually went all out and had Plush Automotive fit an air kit with twin 400cc compressors, Air Lift Performance struts and HPDT rear bags. Bryn admits that yes, he did have some concerns about compromising the poise and handling of his VXR, but the air kit has so far proved much better than the previously mentioned Bilsteins. “The only real issue associated with the kit was that it meant I had to change wheels,” he recalls. “Yeah the Team Dynamics were nice and very lightweight but they weren’t exactly a ‘show wheel’ and I thought they looked out of place on such a low car.”

    So what did he opt for? In the end Bryn took advice from his friend, a man with something of a thing for high-end wheels and someone who took him to Auto Werks, a local firm specialising in posh alloys in all manner of fitments. The Astra’s PCD isn’t exactly god’s gift to fitting fancy wheels but there were options and Bryn finally plumped for the rims that grace the car here, stunning 20in Vossen CVTs with their faces ceramic polished. Not only do these wheels stand out from the more commonly seen Team Dynamics, 3SDMs and Rotiforms, they also fitted perfectly right out of the box and with no need for arch work.

    This is one of those cars that really shouldn’t look as good as it undoubtedly does, and if you’d asked us beforehand whether fitting air suspension to an Astra J VXR was a good thing we’d probably have replied in the negative. Yet it does, and then some. Part of that’s down to the fact that seeing such a new car on its belly is a novel thing, though the extensive programme of smoothing, shaving and deleting that Bryn’s put the car through also plays a part. Flushing the boot was one of the more challenging aspects here, mainly because on the latest VXR the Vauxhall badge actually serves as the release mechanism so deleting it involved fitting a boot popper at the same time. Both front and rear bumpers were given the same treatment, while any chrome trims were relegated to the bin and replaced with perfect paint. It’s all very subtle and won’t be spotted unless you’re a fully paid up VXR perv, but then perhaps that’s the best indication of smoothing done well.

    This has been a fast paced build, with the car taking shape over the course of a year or so, but he’s already working on a custom centreexit exhaust, some other exterior details and, when the package is available, more power. Fair play!

    Smoothing the badge (and boot release) was hassle but the results speak for themselves.

    TECH SPEC: #Vauxhall-Astra-VXR / #Vauxhall-Astra / #Vauxhall / #Opel-Astra / #Vauxhall-Astra-Mk6 / #Vauxhall-Astra-VXR-Mk6 / #Opel-Astra-J / #Vauxhall-Astra-VXR-R

    TUNING 2.0 #A20NFT with Throney Motorsport Stage 3 #VXR-R package and Stage 3 remap, #Thorney-Motorsport panel filter, Pace front mount intercooler, Piper sports cat, #Flow-Dynamics cat back exhaust system, #Forge front lower brace.

    STYLING Astra J VXR in #Arden-Blue , smoothed front and rear bumpers, smoothed boot with boot pop relocated, dechromed, colour coded roof rails, smoked rear lights, tinter windows, black sun strip.

    CHASSIS Air Lift suspension setup comprising #AccuAir #AccuAir-E-Level management, twin 400cc compressors, performance #AirLift front struts, #HDPT rear bags, 4 gallon seamless tank, I-level, #Bilstein rear shocks, 20in #Vossen CVT with ceramic polished faces, 235/30x20 Nankang NS-2, #Brembo four pots, Hel braided hoses.

    INTERIOR Full leather #VXR interior with blue stitching and custom blue seat belts, one off boot build with x2 compressors, x1 tank and colour changing LED lighting.

    THANKS Richard, John at Thorney Motorsport, Dave at Auto Werx, Luke at Plush Automotive, Si at Still Static, Dan at Flow Dynamics, Mo Miah at Specialist Tint ltd, Stuart at Ultra Finish, Slammed UK and Sump Scrapers.

    “Stunning Vossen CVTs with their faces ceramic polished”

    Blue belts are an awesome detail Plush Automotive install is a quality affair as always Vossens will get more popular in 2016.

    BRYN WILLIAMS

    First Vauxhall: A Grasshopper Green 1400 Sri.
    Worst part of the build: Probably the bit that’s ongoing – trying to sort the centre exit exhaust!
    Best part of the build: Dropping it down right after fitting the air suspension.
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    EVOLVE BMW F82 M4 / #2015 / #BMW-M4-F82-Evolve / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-F82 / #Evolve / 530hp / #BMW / #BMW-M4-Evolve /

    White Heat Those wizards at Evolve have given the M4 an extra 100hp! Evolve has worked its magic on the F82 M4 and equipped it with significantly more power and torque Words: Adam Towler. Photography: Gus Gregory.

    There was a time when an extra 20, maybe 30hp, squeezed out of a BMW M3, was considered good going. That held for the E30 variants, but also the six-pot models right up to the last – the fabulous, buxomarched E46. Without going really bespoke with the engine’s internals, and hence at hideous expense, an E46 M3 that made a genuine 360hp was running near the top of its potential. And didn’t we all know it from the glorious noise it made (although that’s a whole new debate I suppose).

    So it’s almost surreal when you consider that this #Evolve-tuned M4 boasts 530hp. Just think about that: no more than ten years ago that was supercar power; twenty years ago it was more like the hypercars of the age. Moreover, Evolve’s M4 combines that stunning amount of power with a solid 500lb ft of torque, something an old S54 engine could only dream about. By way of a comparison, that’s around 100hp more than the standard M4 (with 431hp), and just under 100lb ft more (the standard M4 produces 406lb ft of torque). The F8x M cars have lifted useable performance on to a whole new level, and Evolve’s modifications promise to ramp that up yet again. Given the regular M4 can crack 0-100mph in just 8.6 seconds, it’s clear that this car should be into the realms of the modern day supercar.


    At the core of Evolve’s work on this M4 is its Evolve-R Stage 1 remap. Evolve say it plots its own power graph figures from a rolling road for both a standard and modified car only after taking the average of many runs, to compensate for a variety of atmospheric conditions and heat soak. The inherent message is that Evolve is confident in the claims it is making with regard to the numbers.

    The remap has been combined here with an Eventuri (Evolve’s sister company) carbon fibre air intake system, although when we get to try the car that particular part isn’t fitted and the car has a standard BMW air intake in place. That’s a shame, because the new induction system is really something special to look at – in fact, if you’re so geekily inclined, it’s the sort of thing you might have in an automotive man-cave just because it’s a lovely piece of motorsport sculpture realised in carbon fibre.


    Eventuri creates the systems by first taking a 3D scan of the M4’s engine bay, and loading that into a computer modelling software. Then, by using sophisticated modelling techniques, it can design the new intake to not only maximise the flow of air, and retain the appropriate cross section throughout, but also to fit neatly around the components packed so tightly into the F82’s engine bay (when you see under the bonnet of one of these cars up close, you do tend to appreciate just how much is now crammed in there with a modern turbocharged car).

    The main point of difference with the Eventuri system is that the cone-shaped air filter is turned through 180 degrees, so that it runs from a large mouth into a smaller diameter that’s the same as the intake tube, which the designers believe is less restrictive to airflow. The filter element is housed within a gorgeous carbon ‘bell’; the initial design is first made on a 3D printer, where rapid changes can be made to minor aspects of the design, and then retested, before it’s eventually manufactured in carbon fibre off site. It’s a clever, efficient and effective approach, and an attractive end result to boot.

    This particular car also features a range of BMW M Performance goodies, including the full M Performance exhaust system. So configured, this M4 makes no attempt to hide its potency when I fire it up. The turbocharged ‘six has a flat, thick note that suggests militaristic power over everything else, although I can’t help but miss the complex, multilayered sound signature of previous M Power engines. Gone is the chain rattle and tappet thrash of old, but I suppose that’s what they call progress…

    Never mind: with Drive selected in the #M-DCT ‘box we’re up and running with all the ease you’d expect of a modern car. It’s incredible to think that over 500hp is lurking up front because apart from the drone of the exhaust, this M4 is as docile as you might want it to be in an urban situation. In fully auto mode the ‘box shuffles up and down the ratios quietly yet briskly, and just a brush of throttle is required to keep pace with traffic. That’s either a very good thing – especially if you’re using the car everyday – or something of an anti-climax.

    Visually, the car is not quite so subtle. There’s the M Performance carbon fibre splitter, diffuser, side sills and rear spoiler, but more eye-catching of all are the massive 20-inch #Vossen alloy wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sports measuring 255/30 ZR20 on the front axle, and 285/30 ZR20 on the rear. #KW height adjustable springs lower the ride height but allow the #EDC dampers to be retained, not requiring any reprogramming of the system despite the drop in ride height. Evolve must be a fan of the KWs because they’re also fitted to the F10 M5 we drive on the same day. So equipped on a white M4, there’s no shying away from the street presence this car has.

    Unfortunately, the day of our test drive is very wet – in fact it’s tipping it down. This poses the Evolve M4 with a few serious problems: it has volcanic levels of thrust, seemingly at any revs and on instant demand from the driver, and all of that energy is being channelled through just the rear wheels – and with stiffer suspension as well. The result is that the M4’s traction control system is working overtime almost from the first application of throttle. If you’re brutal with the right hand pedal it’s possible to steal a march on the #DSC system, which then frantically jumps to attention and reins the car back in, although not before it’s got out of shape already. Today’s going to require careful metering of that 500hp.

    Quite what the power and torque numbers are without the new intake system in place we can’t exactly say, but this M4 certainly feels appreciably quicker than standard. It’s a civilised map too: there are no misfires or tantrums during our drive, and nothing to suggest this is anything other than as BMW intended, albeit with considerably more venom to the delivery. That alone is a triumph for any car remapped in the aftermarket industry. The turbo ‘six gets going early and then never really gives up until the limiter is approaching; you can choose to surf the low-down and mid-range torque curve, clicking rapidly through the seven gears with the paddles at your fingertips, or keep the accelerator nailed and relish the outright shove. On a typically tight, slippery English B-road in autumn, this feels like a very fast car indeed.

    For me, the modifications to the M4’s running gear are more of an acquired taste. So equipped, the ride becomes fidgety over every single detail on the road’s surface, even those that aren’t obvious to the naked eye. It’s as if the car’s tyres are reading braille, but it never settles in this state and always feels on edge – the rebound is particularly aggressive, and with such low profile tyres there’s very little the rubber can do to aide the springs and dampers in this regard. Traction is predictably at its most marginal at low speeds and in a low gear, where any enthusiastic throttle application has the rear wheels spinning and the electronic systems stepping in to take control. Without them, the Evolve M4 will slither this way and that all day long until the axle thumps in furious protest. With rivulets of water making their way across the road, it takes a moment of bravery or foolhardiness to switch off the DSC, and if you do then you suddenly become very aware of every twitch made by your toes on the right foot. On drier, smoother, Tarmac it would probably feel significantly different.

    Of course, you don’t have to choose the wheels or the suspension modifications: as ever they are a matter of personal taste, and I’m sure that for some buyers the ‘enhancement’ to the way the M4 looks will be reason alone for making their purchase. However, if anything, a standard-looking M4 – or in particular an M3 – is possibly even more appealing when you have the knowledge that it possesses 530hp under the power-domed bonnet. Given this Stage 1 map costs £999, it’s a very cost effective way to have over 500 horsepower in a modern saloon/coupé, and if it wasn’t for the M Performance exhaust, not one that was immediately obvious to an onlooker. If you’re looking to extract more out of your turbocharged M3, M4 or M4 Convertible, it’s well worth a consideration.

    CONTACT: Evolve Automotive / Tel: 01582 573801 / Web: www.evolveautomotive.com

    Eventuri carbon fibre intake system is a work of art and packing it into the M4’s crowded engine bay is no mean feat; in combination with the remap the M4 now develops 530hp.
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    UNDER DOGGING / Words: Louise Woodhams / Photos: Sam Dobbins / #VAG

    From cruising the back roads of Miami to the very top of the show circuit Larry Harrison has been on one heck of a journey with his S5.

    When Larry Harrison – otherwise known as ‘The Underdog’ on Instagram (the_undrdg) – was testing out the show scene, he used to get told to park at the back or on the grass when he arrived at car shows. He felt like he wasn’t being counted, so as soon as he started to get deeper into modifying his Audi S5, he decided to make a proper impact; this is his underdog story…

    Larry’s love of cars began long before he shook up the US VAG community: “Having grown up watching my father work on his prized 1981 Corvette I have always had a special place in my heart for cars. Then when he purchased a 1987 Porsche 944 I realised there was something about German engineering that I connected with. From watching my dad drive the Porsche at the age of 13, I taught myself how to drive a manual transmission car. Without any instruction, I was able to drive it around the corner and park without stalling or any issues. That was a proud moment in my life,” reminisces Larry.

    In addition to the 944, Larry fondly recalls the 928 from the film Risky Business as being one of his favourite cars growing up, together with the 930 Slantnose that Ice-T owned and was on the front of a promotional poster for his 1987 album Rhyme Pays. Whilst he’s never owned a Porsche, the Stuttgart brand is now part of the Volkswagen Group family, so it’s rather apt that the impression left from the 944 was so strong it stayed with him for a lifetime. Aged 37, he was finally in a financial position to buy what he wanted and found his way back to a brand that’s now part of the same family that captured his heart so many years ago, after girlfriend Ana suggested they buy an Audi.

    His criteria for a base car was simple – a twodoor with a naturally aspirated V8 and red interior. It was obvious – it had to be a B8 S5. After searching online, Larry decided to visit Texas Direct Auto’s main store in his hometown of Houston, Texas. “They didn’t have what I wanted at that time, but as I was about to travel to California on business, I got a call to say that a black 2009 Audi S5 with red interior had come in and that if I was unable to look at it I should put a deposit down. Thinking he was being a pushy salesman I declined. The car was sold the next day… lesson learnt,” laughs Larry.

    Fortunately, three weeks later, they got in another model, the only difference was that it was Dakota grey but that really didn’t matter to Larry as he had always intended on changing it. This time he was in Florida for business, but having learnt from his previous mistake, he decided to buy it there and then. “The first time I saw the car and test drove it was the day I took it home. Fortunately I had no regrets! It was in incredible condition, three years old and with just 17,000 miles on the clock. The first thing I did was show it to my son Dylan. I normally don’t make a move without his blessing, but this time I did not have the opportunity,” recalls Larry.

    In fact, it was after the father and son team saw a 2015 Audi RS7 in Nardo grey at a car show in Houston that they decided this would be the colour change required to kick start the build. The car was taken to Auto Magician Paint and Body shop in Webster, Texas. Owner Miguel had never done a paint job, instead specialising in collision repair, but he was up for the challenge and Larry trusted him. Four weeks later, the car was ready and absolutely flawless: “You could see the nervousness in Miguel’s eyes when I came to pick the car up and when I told him how much I loved it; he breathed a huge sigh of relief and smiled.”

    The car was then immediately taken to a good friend of Larry’s, Mike Nguyen, owner of CVT Designs, to get some suspension work done. “Mike told me there is nothing like an Audi slammed to the ground on airbags so needless to say that’s what happened!” Larry laughs. Mike designed a custom system and completed the installation within just three weeks including a bespoke boot build. “I wanted the trunk setup to be clean, but also to have all the hardware on show – like a nice Rolex you can see the mechanicals and how it works,” he says. “That’s why the copper hardlines are on show. Copper tubing is also a tribute to the hot rod scene that’s so popular where I’m from.”

    By this point the body kit had arrived from Autohaus 24 in California. Rieger Tuning offered the only styling that matched his vision for the car in the form of an RS5 conversion body kit, including front bumper and rear bumper extensions, vented side skits and carbon front splitter. The eagle-eyed among you will spot that the car is actually sporting a JMS front lip splitter; this is because his original plan was to preserve the S5 look without going completely RS5, but immediately after the photoshoot it was swapped out for the Rieger part, together with an LED light bar in the lower front grille.

    Back to the story, the car was left in Miguel’s hands once again, and was ready to collect three days later: “When I first saw the new body aired out and laying on the ground, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The bagged suspension makes the stance on the Audi look amazing and beautifully tucks all four wheels in. This time I was the one smiling, and somewhat thankful that the combination worked so perfectly,” he confesses. Now it was time to upgrade the rolling stock: “I had a set of rims that didn’t stand up to tough use on our roads,” Larry explains, “so I went to Rollo’s Solutions in Houston that I frequent for wheels and tyres and my guy, Luis, recommended Vossen. Apparently they could handle the punishment of the potholes that plague Austin’s streets.

    “I think as a car grows, it becomes more and more of what I perceive perfection to be. For example, I started with the Vossen CV3 before swapping them out for the VFS-1 and finally settling on the VPS 304 – the world’s first fully polished examples with a diamond cut face nonetheless. The wheels are absolutely stunning in every way. They dance with the sunlight while I drive and at car shows they play with the fluorescent lighting. Having visited the Vossen factory, I met the people that built my wheels, and that really means something special to me.” Since he likes small side wall tyres with a nice tread pattern, he opted for Toyo T-1 Sports, which at 255/30 find themselves moderately stretched around the 10.5x20” rims. As well as offering a comfortable and quiet ride, they work in perfect harmony with the car’s AWD system.


    Last, but by all means not least was the audio. Being a retail regional manager for Sony, Larry was in the fortunate position of being able to network with companies that otherwise might not have been on his radar. Larry took the car to see Dia and Muhammed at Houston Car Stereo where they tasked their master installer Victor to do something very special indeed. First the boot was trimmed in black and grey leather with black suede accents and LED accent lighting throughout. JL Audio speakers were then mounted in the bootlid to complement the Sony Vaio touch-screen PC, whilst the centre armrest was used to house the two JL Audio subwoofers. Finally, Mike from CVT dropped by to complete the copper hardline integration.


    It’s taken Larry just one year to go from stock to spectacle, so how he is perceived at car shows now? “The first show I attended was Import Face-Off in Texas. People loved it; they took so many photos of my Audi and asked me questions about the build. The colour and the wheels were the main topics of discussion. I took home two awards too; First Place and Best Euro. The response has been amazing online, too. Before the build I had about 350 followers, and less than seven months into it that number grew to 7000!

    It’s not unusual to have people take pictures or videos of the car when it’s on the road. It’s awkward, but I really appreciate the attention and love the car receives,” proudly answers Larry. Like a true underdog, Larry was a participant on the scene who was never expected to win. Things have changed now, and the stakes are a little higher but he’s played the game well with so many of the aspects of the car that are yet to be improved upon. “I’ve got my eyes on Wekfest Florida car show in December, which has a great car scene, so I’ll be continuing to build what I perceive as a faultless car. I’m considering a colour change, a new set of Vossen wheels, a big brake kit, a few performance mods perhaps…” Larry hints. Watch this space…

    Dub Details #Audi-S5 / #Audi-A5 / #Audi /

    ENGINE: 4.2-litre V8 with #K&N intake filter, custom intake box with Plexi top and LED lighting, hydro-dipped intake hose and radiator cover (carbon fibre), #Magnaflow exhaust system.

    CHASSIS: 10.5x20” #Vossen VPS 304 forged wheels fully polished with a diamond cut face shod in 255/30 Toyo T-1 Sport Tyres; Viair air suspension.

    EXTERIOR: Full respray in Audi Nardo grey, RS5 conversion Rieger Tuning body kit including front bumper and rear bumper extension (for dual exhaust exit), vented side skirts and carbon front splitter, RS5 black honeycomb grille conversion, Hüper Optik ceramic window tint, smoked taillights, custom light bar in lower front grille.

    ICE: #JL-Audio twin subwoofers integrated into rear arm rest, JL Audio speakers and Sony Vaio touchscreen PC mounted in bootlid, custom boot build trimmed in black and grey leather with black suede accents and LED accent lighting throughout with twin Viair air compressors and copper hardlines.

    SHOUT: Jav and Mike at Vossen Wheels, Mike at CVT Designs Houston, Luis at Rollo’s Solutions Houston, Miguel at The Auto Magician in Webster Texas, Victor, Dia and Muhammed at Houston Car Stereo, Nate at Nate D’s Customs and Andy at Autohaus 24.

    Boot install might not be subtle but when it comes to impressing show ’n’ shine judges it’s got all the tricks. “It’s not unusual to have people take pictures or videos of the car when it’s on the road. I really appreciate the attention and love it receives” Shooting anything in Miami is always going to result in awesome looking photos isn’t it? We’re not jealous… “like a nice Rolex you can see the mechanicals and how it works”
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    THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO

    The #BMW-F01 7 Series is not a car many of us would think of modding but this owner clearly thinks differently… or should that be Thunderbirds Are Low? We’ve tracked down Thunderbird 7, and it’s skimming the Romanian asphalt like a VIP stealth missile.

    Readers of a certain chronological advancement will be familiar with Thunderbirds. Not the iffy #2004 movie, but the original #1965 TV series; filmed using Supermarionation (which sounds like a Nintendo game, but is a real thing), it showcased the adventures of International Rescue, a philanthropic sub-superhero outfit run by the Tracy family – dad Jeff, and his five sons Scott, John, Virgil, Gordon and Alan. Their secret identities were presumably anchored in the fact that if you were to meet someone called Alan Tracy in the pub, you probably wouldn’t assume he was planning to take down an international terrorist ring that wanted to extinguish the sun.

    The five sons had access to a fleet of outlandish vehicles – the imaginatively-titled Thunderbird 1, along with 2, 3, 4 and 5. One of them was a rocket plane, another was a space station, yet another was a weaponised submersible… But why are we discussing Thunderbirds in a mag about modified BMWs? Aha, the answer is simple: we’ve found one of the Thunderbirds, and he’s driving something you might be interested in.

    As you may be aware, ITV is bringing back Thunderbirds for #2015 , so it was inevitable that the original cast would gradually seep from the woodwork at some point, and we’ve tracked down Virgil Tracy to the architecturally fabulous city of Oradea in western Romania. For reasons of stealth, he’s been going under the name of Virgil Halacu for the last half-century or so, and presenting himself to the world as a 21-yearold human being rather than some kind of sophisticated marionette. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly him – and while Virgil’s original craft, Thunderbird 2, was a shiny green supersonic transporter aircraft, today’s vehicle of choice is an F01-generation #BMW 7 Series. Thunderbird 7, if you will.

    The parallels, when you consider the details, are manifold and obvious. Most noticeably, the way they both air themselves out: if you search YouTube for ‘Thunderbird 2 launch sequence’, you’ll see the retro-futurist ship lowering down on to its central body pod; in much the same way, Virgil’s custom suspension sees him planting the #730d on to the Tarmac at the flick of a switch.

    “I’d been thinking about getting a new stance project for a while,” he explains. “I bought this car from a friend in #2012 , and for about a year I just used it as it was while I figured out what I wanted to do. Then, at the end of #2013 , another friend told me about a guy he knew in Budapest who’d be able to build me a custom air-ride system, so that was the decision made there and then.”

    The details and specs of the setup are a closely guarded secret, as you might expect – after all, why would Virgil want to be sharing Brains’ blueprints around? The last thing he’d want to do would be to give any enemies of the state a strategic advantage. The path to ownership of this 7 Series had been a long and convoluted one as well, with Virgil flitting from one project to another and seemingly wanting to try a little of everything from the global motoring buffet, like some greedy magpie. Since swapping from fictional 5000mph aircraft to real-world motors, he’s seen and done a lot of things that most of us could only dream of. He does have an eye for the high-end fare, you see. “My first car was a #Hummer H3,” he explains, “and I’ve had various projects including an #Audi A6, a #VW #Touareg V8, and a #Mercedes-Benz S550. But I love the shape of the #F01 7 Series, and I really wanted one as it’s got a full-on mafia look.” Hold up. Did he just say…? Has one of the original Thunderbirds abandoned the core principles of International Rescue in order to follow the shady path of Sicilian organised crime? Crikey. That new TV series is going to be pretty dark.

    You can see where he’s coming from though, there’s a tangible ooze of mafioso chic from the chunky, solid lines of the 730d, gleaming menacingly in evil black like Hotblack Desiato’s spaceship (to throw another obscure sci-fi reference into the mix). Virgil saw fit to beef up this luxurious outline with a sprinkling of upgrades from the #760i ’s M Performance package – check out the chunkier bumpers and the rakishly angled quad exhausts – while much of the chrome trim has been blacked out for reasons of menace. The headlights have been darkened too, with the simmering devilishness of red angel eyes offering a ‘get out of my way’ motorway presence.

    And if you’re going to the effort of plumbing air-ride into your jam jar, you’ve got to give some thought to the wheels. Virgil’s channelling the cunning brainpower of the Thunderbirds workshop here by choosing a special set of rims for his imposing ride – namely 20” Vossen CVTs. “I might think about another brand one day, but right now I love the Vossen life!” he grins (his current Audi project, for reference, rolls on a set of CV3s). The CVT is a pretty sci-fi design, in that it’s a directional wheel; whereas most sets of wheels require one mould, or perhaps two, these rollers require a different mould for each unique wheel, given that the spokes point different ways on either side. They’re angled to create an illusion of motion even when stationary, which is a classier technique than bolting a load of spinners on.

    “I’m proud of how the car’s come out,” Virgil says, and he’s right to be. “It ended up being in Budapest for quite a while, as parts had to be ordered specially from the US, and then there was lots of trial-and-error with mounting, notching, modifying, remounting, all to get the car sitting as low as it could physically go. The chassis genuinely does sit on the floor when it’s aired out. But most of all, I’m proud because this is a proper Romanian build (with a little help from Hungary) – I wanted to show the worldwide stance scene that we can do it too!” Admirable sentiments indeed. But isn’t all of this civic pride distracting Virgil from his duties – what if someone tries to nuke Antarctica, or steal all of the copper ore from the bowels of the Earth in order to build a massive, hideous interstellar weapon? Fear not, he’s got more than enough power on his side to get the job done with quiet panache. The running gear may be stock, but the phrase ‘stock running gear’ belies an element of surprise when you’re talking about an F01 – even a 730d. That 3.0-litre straight-six eagerly harnesses the swirling might of forced induction to unleash a galloping 242hp, which is more than enough to spirit him into the heart of a terror’s way if so required. He gets to travel in swish leather-lined luxury, too – go on, check out the big-screened splendour of the cabin and tell us you don’t think it’s better than the bridge of Thunderbird 2.

    So, does all of this rumbling Romanian menace suggest a new direction for International Rescue? A fleet of modified BMWs, ready to take on the evils of the world with a can-do attitude and a ready disdain for miscreant lawbreakers? Well, we can only hope. But if this is what Virgil’s been up to, imagine what other tweaked Bavarian fare we’re likely to see emerging from Tracy Island in the near future. If it’s anywhere near as badass as this low-slung 730d, we can all be thoroughly grateful for his mischievous streak. Look out, bad guys – Thunderbirds are go!

    DATA FILE #BMW #F01 #730d

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel #N57 D3000 , eightspeed automatic gearbox.

    CHASSIS: 9x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) monoblock directional #Vossen CVTs with 235/30 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Pirelli P Zero tyres, custom air-ride setup.

    EXTERIOR: #760i -spec M Sport all-black additions, carbon fibre bootlid spoiler, tinted headlights with multi-coloured LED angel eyes.

    INTERIOR: Stock cream leather interior.
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