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    END OF TERM / FAST FLEET / CAR: #BMW-E46 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-E46 / #BMW-E46 / #Ergen-Motorsport / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-E46 / #BMW-3-Series-M3 / #BMW-3-Series-M3-E46

    Date acquired February #2016
    Duration of test 10 months
    Total test mileage 4338
    Overall mpg 23.0
    Costs £744 intake
    £1972 exhaust
    £5071 brakes
    £1200 #VANOS-rebuild / #VANOS / #BMW-M3-E46-VANOS / #S54B32 / #BMW-S54 / #S54 / #S54-VANOS-Rebuild

    Our web editor is off, and despite the expense and heartache of The Berlin Fiasco, he’s taking his #BMW-M-Cars with him.

    It’s alive!’ That was the text message I’d been waiting a long time to receive from Ergen Motorsport in Southampton. At last my M3 was up and running again.

    It hadn’t been easy establishing what exactly had gone wrong when the car became nothing more than a large silver ornament during a trip to Germany many months ago. Starting the engine would cause the revs to flare, but then it would die. Hooking the car up to a diagnostics reader would show a whole range of faults that seemed to follow very few patterns. Few patterns except for one, that is: VANOS.

    Things had smelled a bit fruity under full throttle for a while, which I should’ve known was a hint that the system, which controls the E46 M3’s variable valve timing, was on its way out. With all other (cheaper!) possible causes eliminated, the guys at Ergen Motorsport made the call to rebuild the system, and that rebuild is what ultimately brought the car back to life.

    Upon collecting it, the first thing I did was go for a proper run on some B-roads. It now revs even cleaner than before and has lost that nasty fuel smell under full throttle, which suggests the engine is a lot happier. As am I. Months without the car had me well and truly missing it, while that moment it was lifted onto a flatbed in Germany had me thinking I might never experience its unique thrills again.

    However, no sooner has my E46 been repaired than it will be disappearing from these pages. No, I haven’t sold it – at the moment I don’t feel like I ever will – but I have left evo, and that means my M3 has left with me.

    So, how have my first ten months with the car been? Well, I’ve already built up some unforgettable memories – and not all of them are accompanied by large bills! It feels as if the E46 has been everywhere. It spent a week in Berlin, did laps on the Nürburgring, drove me around Hackney and took me to north Wales. It has always been fast enough, loud enough and grippy enough to provide excitement whenever required, but it can also chew through motorway miles without issue. Given how much the car initially cost – £12,500 – it’s been unbelievable value for money.

    As for actually running an #BMW E46 M3, the engine is what makes it special. The 338bhp 3.2-litre in-line #six-cylinder has a supercar-like red line (8000rpm), and with the Eventuri carbonfibre intake and Supersprint exhaust I’ve had fitted to mine, it sounds just brilliant, too.

    Then there are the brakes… The standard setup is pretty shocking compared with those on more modern cars, but the Alcons I have upgraded to are truly sublime. They’re unbelievably powerful (and expensive) and stop the car feeling big and bulky. I would also like a faster steering rack, as this would make the car feel more nimble still, though perhaps this desire wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t become used to driving newer stuff while at evo. I also wish the E46 wasn’t so rustprone, but you can’t have it all.

    The definition of ‘The Thrill of Driving’ varies from individual to individual. Some might enjoy time on track, others blasting a car down a B-road, but for me it’s always been about the adventure and freedom that driving provides. And having a car like the E46 M3 in which to experience that freedom just adds to the enjoyment.

    Ultimately, if you want an affordable performance car with an engine a little bit more special than a 2-litre turbo, the E46 is the one.

    ‘The M3 was always fast enough, loud enough and grippy enough to provide excitement whenever required’
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    Hunter Skipworth
    Hunter Skipworth joined the group BMW E46 3-series Club
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    Hunter Skipworth
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    In-car technology. Gesture control, a touch screen interface and #Apple CarPlay bring BMW’s saloon up to date. #BMW-5-Series-G30 fights back in technology arms race.

    / #2017 / #BMW-5-series / #BMW / #BMW-G30 / #Apple-CarPlay

    The BMW 5-Series had some serious catching up to do in terms of technology. No surprise, then, that after being overshadowed by the new Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class models released in 2016, BMW’s latest 5-series (Radar), which arrives in showrooms in February, borrows heavily from the interior gadgetry of the 7-series to level the playing field.

    Amongst the armoury is a new optional gesture-control system that enables you to interact with the infotainment system by making hand movements in front of the central display. In some ways this is total tech overkill, but being able to turn the stereo volume up using nothing other than your little finger is certainly a slick touch.

    The car’s head-up display has a higher resolution than that of the outgoing model, allowing for more detail in its graphics, but the biggest update is a move to the latest version of iDrive, which comes with a 10.25-inch high-resolution screen that is touch-sensitive. This touchscreen makes the iDrive system much quicker to use than it is with the traditional clickwheel and finally brings smartphone-like control to the car’s infotainment system. Speaking of which, a new ‘message centre’ within the #iDrive acts as a one-stop shop for text messages, emails and other information.

    Music lovers will appreciate the extensive hi-fi options. As standard you get a six-speaker setup, but you can move all the way up to a full-fat Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound arrangement. This features a ten-channel amplifier, 16 speakers and diamond tweeters (made from industrially manufactured diamond, the rigidity of which is said to improve sound reproduction). If the B&W system sounds anything like the one in the 7-series, it should be utterly fantastic. Rear-seat passengers can also enjoy an ‘entertainment experience system’, which adds twin HD screens and the ability to connect a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One console.

    The 5-series is very much laden with tech, then, but like the 7-series before it, there does seem to be a few unnecessary features. Take, for example, the Ambient Air Package, which will ionise the air inside the car (improving its quality by removing particles from it) and, should you so desire, add some fragrance into the mix. But the best feature in the latest 5-series? Easily the new wireless #Apple-CarPlay , which allows you to interact with an iPhone through iDrive without a cable. It’s currently the best in-car infotainment system out there.
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    Hunter Skipworth
    Hunter Skipworth joined the group BMW 5 Series G30
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