- CLEAN BANDIT Styled and tuned F82 M4. SLICK M4 F82 with power and poise. Passion brought forth the assassin… Keren Zeng’s ingrained love for the BMW brand has helped him deliver a killer blow with this M4. Flawless victory! Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Kevin Uy.
Assassins come in many forms. Followers of classic Japanese folklore will be familiar with the concept of the ninja or shinobi, whose function was to act as a covert spy and saboteur. Fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series will know the assassins to be as gentlemanly and respected as they are deadly, fusing the cloaked secrecy of the ninja with the necessity to always leave their victims with a receipt.
And, of course, there’s the ragtag group of misfit assassins that this BMW M4 falls into; rubbing shoulders with James Bond and Liam Neeson, it’s the sort of character that’ll kick your door in, carry out the lethal task in broad daylight, utter a witty quip, shoot the cuffs on their impeccably tailored suit, and effect their graceful egress. Possibly leaping off a ledge and onto a plane or something.
This car could never be a shinobi. Look at it, it’s bright orange. But it does neatly intertwine the twin cannons of flawlessly sharp aesthetics and brutal firepower; a sublimely crafted art piece packing a horsepower figure that begins with a five. It’s primarily a functional thing, as evidenced by its gait being hunkered aggressively down rather than stylistically stanced, with the tyres displaying a usefully chunky spread of sidewall. But at the same time, its looks and sense of purpose are razor-edged. This is not a thing to be messed with, unless you’re planning on that being the last thing you ever do.
This creation is the vision-made-real of one Keren Zeng, proprietor of an automotive aftermarket shop in Victoria B.C, Canada, and lifelong BMW-fancier. “When I was in seventh grade I saw the E46 M3 on the cover of Need for Speed 9 for the first time, and I immediately fell in love with that car,” he says.
“Since then my dream machines have always been #BMW-M cars. And when the M4 came out, I placed an order without hesitation!” This long-held obsession is more than a videogame-induced fantasy, however. The passion runs somewhat deeper than that. “Owning a #BMW in my home country back when I was growing up was very, very hard,” he explains. “Not just because of the price, but also the limited availability. I loved to memorise all the car brands when I was little, and my father bought me all kinds of toy cars and asked me what models they were. I remember my favourite was the BMW 8 Series, which was a birthday gift from my father. And I was lucky enough to experience BMWs when I was a little older; at the age of 17 I drove my friend’s E92 M3, and I was totally blown away by the handling, the sound and the performance of the car. And from that time, BMW M cars have planted a very deep root in my heart.”
You see, this is no cynical tale of somebody throwing a bunch of money at an on-trend motor to win Instagram points, this is the culmination of a lifetime of aspirations and yearning. When Keren came to open up his Canadian business, the time was right to dive into the fragrantly alluring waters of M car ownership. Well, almost… he had a little practice with a 435i first.
“In 2013 in Montreal, I first saw a 435i in real life,” he breathlessly recalls. “I spied it at the downtown parking lot and the colour was Mineral grey – it immediately caught my attention; the shape of the car, the M badge just up the side vent, and the aggressive face. I told myself that one day I would own a car like this. And later that year, my dream came true.”
Neat use of ‘one day’ there, this is clearly a guy who likes to get things done with no time to shilly-shally. An Estoril blue example was bought, and duly subjected to KW coilovers, Vorsteiner wheels, Akrapovič exhaust, a feisty remap, and all the aero stuff in the M Performance catalogue. With this makeover successfully dealt with, Keren felt it was time to join the big leagues and really make that dream a reality. His name was inked on a shiny new M4’s pink slip, and the planets obligingly aligned.
“I had a pretty clear plan for the M4 from day one, based on what I’d learned from the 435i,” he explains, which makes perfect sense really. Combining age-old dreaming with first-hand experience tends to forge strong mental images. “My first set of wheels were BBS CI-Rs, powdercoated satin black. However, after having them for half a year I decided to go with HRE for its Forged series, choosing the Classic 300 – I respect classic cars and wanted to combine the retro with the modern, although in order to do so you can’t just put a classic rim on a new car, the colour choice has to be very careful. So I went with Dark Brushed Clear for the outer lip and barrel, and Satin Bronze for the face, both of which match perfectly with the Sakhir orange paint.”
In order to get the car sitting lower over these broad, chunky rims, Keren opted for Swift springs to work with the stock M4 dampers, keeping in mind that the car’s a daily driver and the factory chassis setup is already pretty mind-blowing. A set of Fall- Line Motorsports anti-roll bars found their way into the mix with the aim of making the car “track ready” (Keren’s words; he’s not playing games here), while the engine inhales and exhales a lot more freely thanks to an Eventuri cold air intake and full Akrapovič exhaust system, all remapped to make the most of those bonus horses. ETG’s clever ones-and-zeroes tuning is marketed as offering gains of 89hp and 96lb ft of torque over stock, which is certainly not to be sniffed at, and it also offers a bunch of boltons such as a speed limiter removal, transmission software and traction control reflashing, and even throttle-blipping and overrun exhaust popping. As you might imagine, Keren was pretty liberal with the box-ticking that day.
“I love clean cars, so when I choose the style of my car, I always believe that less is more,” he explains. “In order to match the body colour and details, all of my exterior pieces are carbon fibre. And the same goes for the interior – the carbon fibre upgrades are there to enhance the spirit of the M Performance brand rather than try to turn it into something else.” In addition to this OEM+ approach, there’s also been a fairly substantial input from iND, whose comprehensive range of aftermarket add-ons has been raided to yield such trophies as black kidney grilles, black boot badges, painted front reflectors to eliminate the garishness of the factory items, and painted side markers in the same vein. The overarching principle here is to hone and refine the cohesiveness of BMW’s own design and the M division’s enhancements to it; think of this car as being the next little step down the M4’s evolutionary path. “My favourite modifications are the wheels and the exhaust,” Keren continues.
“The way the HREs look and the way the Akrapovič sounds are just total eye and ear candies, it transforms the M4.” And all the while, as he gazes fondly over his creation, you can hear his brain ticking away, formulating new schemes and stratagems. It’s not finished, of course: “The orange turns so many heads, people are always taking photos of it,” he ponders. “I’m considering wrapping it in camo for the show season…”
Well, that’d certainly help the M4 to fulfil its destiny as a stealthy assassin. A sneakily applied camo would help it slither under the radar and carry out its evil deeds. As long as Keren doesn’t have the engine running, naturally – all that popping and crackling is a bit of a giveaway.
DATA FILE #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Akrapovic / #BMW-M4-M-DCT / #BMW-M4-M-DCT-F82 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #HRE-Classic / #HRE / #2017 / #Akrapovic
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six S55B30 / , #Akrapovič exhaust system, #ETG remap, #Eventuri intake, seven-speed M-DCT gearbox
CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #HRE-Classic-300 , 255/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Michelin Pilot Sport, #Fall-Line-Motorsports front and rear anti-roll bars, Swift springs
EXTERIOR Sakhir orange, #M-Performance rear spoiler, #RKP front lip, Kohlenstoff rear diffuser, #iND front painted reflectors, iND black grilles, iND painted trunk emblem, iND painted side markers
INTERIOR M Performance Alcantara steering wheel, #DCT console trim and DCT gear knob cover
THANKS Kevin King Uy for the photoshoot, Cat from iND for all the modifications, Kelvin from #ETG-Tuning-Group , #HRE , #Akrapovi , #BMW-Victoria , #KZ-Auto-Group