Every day we're bombarded by new product releases. Most are forgotten by the time they hit the trashcan. Typically "new" products are simply reinterpretations of other products already in existence-regurgitations of the successful and inventive. Once in a while, though, we get something that's genuinely clever, a product we might actually use. We stack these atop a sizable pile and choose a few for each issue.
And then there's the stuff we just gotta have, gear that makes you wonder how you lived without it. We spend more time on these, browsing the forums and websites, poring over every inch of data we can find. Typically we obtain said product for testing purposes, to really see if it's as good as it looks.
Once a year we like to showcase the shining stars of the industry, stuff that raised eyebrows and had us checking our credit card limits. The following stood out to us as representing the best of the best-this is Select Gear.
NM Engineering MINI
Cooper S Turbo Heat Shield
When it came time to design the exhaust manifold heat shield on the R56 MINI Cooper S, the decision to use titanium was simple. Sure stainless steel would have been cheaper but the added benefits of titanium were well worth the expense. When compared to stainless steel, titanium offers weight reduction, increased strength, and reduced thermal conductivity (stays cooler). Manufactured from commercially pure titanium, the NM Engineering TitaNM turbo heat shield is designed to direct heat from the turbocharger down and around the engine, not over the top of it, helping to reduce intake temps and protect the paint.
VF Engineering E46 M3
Streetsport Supercharger system
The VF Streetsport Supercharger system can get your E46 M3 to produce 420 peak horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque for just shy $6K (parts only) with their non-intercooled self-lubricating Vortech V3-SC trim supercharger system running only 4.0-4.5 psi. Other key components of the kit include cast aluminum intake plenum, CNC Billet 6061-T6 mounting bracket system with OEM BMW idler, Bosch EV6 high flow fuel injectors, cast aluminum intake with K&N filter, Bosch MAF housing, GReddy Type R BOV, and GIAC ECU flash. What makes this kit unique is that it was designed to be a starter kit and can be easily upgraded to Stage 1.
Mods4cars Smart FOB
Sometimes it is the simplest things that can agitate you the most. Like the BMW's 1,3, and 5's inability to roll down the windows with the key FOB to let the heat escape before you get in. Mods4cars provides the solution with the remoteKEY, a module that interfaces with the factory system, allowing the driver to open and close the windows or sunroof with the push of button. For convertible owners Mods4cars offers the smartTOP module designed to give your key fob complete control over the vehicle's top.
Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Mercedes, Porsche, VW
ECS Wheel Hanger
In the past, most European vehicles came equipped with a wheel hanger in the tool kit. The problem with these OEM versions is they were made either of plastic or soft metal and were useless since the plastic would break under the weight of some wheels or easily cross thread and the metal ones did not tap in enough. While most manufacturers have scrapped the tool altogether, the wheel hanger is an invaluable tool that makes mounting 10 times easier. The ECS wheel hanger is a vast improvement and features an extra long shaft with plenty of treads to ensure stable support when mounting the wheel. Use two ECS wheel hangers to easily install wheel spacers and significantly reduce the risk of chipping painted calipers. Available in 14x1.5 and 12x1.5 tread.
BMW Sport Steering Wheel
The BMW Performance sport steering wheel uses a motorsport-inspired design tocombine form with function. No-slip Alcantara side grips (reminiscent of an F1 wheel) keep your hands at 9 and 3; the rest of the wheel is wrapped with black leather. Contrasting stitching adds a stylish design accent. At the 12 o'clock position there's an integrated performance computer with a three-section display. The middle screen is a larger icon-based display flanked by progressive LED shift lights. The center screen displays numeric real-time oil and water temperatures plus g-force readings and a lap timer. Scrolling through data is a breeze with hidden buttons located at the 10 and 2 positions below the grip area.
BMW North America
One thing you can always count on is that when it rains it pours. That is why the ContiComfortKit makes perfect sense especially if you decided to replace your vehicle's run-flat tires with non-run-flats, if you're taking a long road trip, or have the unfortunate luck of getting stuck with two flat tires a hundred miles from nowhere with one spare. ContiComfortKit combines a 12-volt compressor with a pressure gauge and a latex liquid sealant that with the push of a button simultaneously seals the puncture and inflates the tire, allowing you travel at a maximum speed of 50 mph for up to 125 miles. It can be used to extend the range of most run-flat tires. The ContiComfortKit sealant will service one tire; additional refills can be purchased separately.
refill kit: $25
The CANbus serial bus framework in most modern vehicles is like the human body's central nervous system-it connects and sends impulses to and from every system to the brain. The MTM Cantronic interfaces with the system to gather all relevant system data, recalculate input variables, and feeds them back into the system they are trying to optimize. Currently, MTM offers its M-Cantronic to increase performance on Audi and VW diesel engines, and the F-Cantronic to optimize handling and performance in Audi, Bentley, Porsche and VW vehicles equipped with an adjustable air suspension. Both systems are plug-and-play and can be easily removed when you sell the vehicle or go in for service.
MTM (North America)
HPA Stage 2 DSG/S
Tronic Performance Programming
The Volkswagen DSG and Audi S tronic dual-clutch computer-controlled transmissions have revolutionized the way we think about automatic transmissions. But as we saw in the Terminator movies, when you give a computer too much control, trouble ensues. The DSG/S tronic computer is a little too controlling; produce too much power and it'll signal the ECU, which then starts messing with things. That's why HPA released its Stage 2 software-to eliminate meddling and optimize performance. Key performance features include an increased torque limiter, progressive shift points, increased redline, and elimination of automatic shifting. No-cost bonus features include activation of launch control on vehicles with high-rpm launch capability and an in-dash gear display.
TyreGuardian is an advance tire protection system that's designed to stop flats before they happen. Using a concentrated liquid gel formula, TyreGuardian creates an airtight barrier within the tire-imagine an inner tube. When a puncture occurs and the pressurized air tries to escape, the TyreGuardian material is forced out of the puncture to create an immediate airtight seal. The manufacturer claims to prevent air loss from punctured holes up to 6mm in diameter, but after thoroughly thrashing some of our own rubber, we found it even holds up to a 7.5mm hole. When it comes time to replace the tire, TyreGuardian peels right off, leaving no mess on the wheel or floor during dismount. In fact, TyreGuardian turns from liquid to rubber right in your very hands!
The GReddy intelligent Informeter Touch system (coined from its 3.5-inch TFT color touch display) is a fully customizable engine monitoring system. With OBD-II interface capabilities (available only on some applications), it gives drivers access to a list of vehicle sensors. Whether or not your vehicle is compatible with the OBD-II interface, GReddy's Info-Touch offers external sensor monitoring with optional boost, pressure (oil/fuel), and temp (oil/coolant) sensors fully integrated with data logging and warning alarm capabilities. Added cool factor at no additional charge.
GIAC Performance Software
for BMW 135i, 335i, 535i
Since BMW released the N54 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine, piggyback controllers have been the medium of choice for extracting extra power and torque for one simple reason, the inability to penetrate the Siemens DME defenses and manipulate the MSD80/81 software. But the downside of the piggyback method is that it works in conjunction with the factory software, so if there's a flaw, it can't be corrected. During development of its aftermarket software, GIAC discovered that at full throttle, the throttle body did not fully open during higher rpm-a common technique employed by BMW to limit horsepower. With this software the throttle can open wide, allowing more air to enter the combustion chamber and producing power all the way to redline.
AWE Sport Pedals
Adding an AWE sport pedal cover set can both beautify and enhance the driving experience in your late-model Audi, Porsche or Volkswagen. Unlike generic pedal covers that are designed to fit almost anything, these are custom tailored to fit each application. Key features include pre-installed rubber nubs for grip, a hard anodized finish for durability, rounded corners on the clutch and brake pedals for shoe clearance, and a larger gas pedal for easier heel-toe shifting.
The Nitto NT05 is a perfect example of a manufacturer listening to the needs of its customers. The NT05 features large inner and outer shoulder blocks and a continuous center rib designed to provide good stability during cornering and braking. It also employs a specially formulated silica tread compound and reinforced internal construction designed to maximize dry performance. Wrapped with a super-cool tread pattern, the NT05 delivers a high level of performance without compromised comfort. We told Nitto what we wanted in a tire. They delivered, big time.