As we briefly mentioned last month, BMW replaced our 135i project car with a Competition Package M3. And yes, we thought the same - what were they thinking?
After the fun we had with the twin-turbo N54 engine in the 135i, it's now time to prove you can have just as much fun with the 4.0 V8 in the M3. Apparently, some people feel the turbo-six is more suitable as a tuner project than the naturally aspirated eight, and it's our task to prove otherwise. How hard can that be?
Our 2011 M3 was among the very first in the US with the new Competition Package (CP). It includes 19'' Style 359M wheels that are reminiscent of the E46 M3 CSL design. At 9'' front and 10'' rear wide, these are 0.5'' wider than the existing 220M optional 19'' wheels, widening the track 12mm.
The CP also includes 10mm lower ride height in conjunction with reprogrammed Electronic Damper Control. Previously, EDC offered variable damping in the Comfort and Normal modes, but had a preset value for the Sport mode. With CP, Sport mode now also varies the damper settings in real-time response to road conditions.
Furthermore, the M Dynamic Mode (MDM) traction control setting has been reprogrammed to interject later, giving more slip angle and more entertainment.
At present, you also need to specify the Technology Package (TP) to make the most of these options. That's because TP gives you Comfort Access and, crucially, Navigation. With the iDrive nav system, you can then access the M Drive button on the steering wheel through the widescreen display menu. This is the only way to select MDM and alter the electronic steering settings. The throttle settings, EDC and basic traction control can still be accessed manually via console-mounted buttons, but the screen allows you to link all these to the M Drive button as a preset.
The Technology Package costs $3250, but it drops to $2500 if you order it in conjunction with the Competition Package. There are also plans at BMW to allow access to MDM and M Drive without ordering TP in the future.
So while our car got the sporty CP and TP options, it didn't get the $2000 Premium Package to control costs. As a result, it has cloth seat center panels with leather outer sections, and Titanium Shadow dash trim. If we're honest, the cloth is a great choice on the superb sports seats with their adjustable thigh support, lumbar region and side bolsters that tighten.
We also controlled spending by choosing the (cooler E90) $55400 Sedan, which saved $3k over the E92 Coupe, while the stock manual transmission was $2900 cheaper than the admittedly excellent double-clutch DCT transmission.
We also felt this was probably the last European musclecar to be available with a manual; since the next M3 will be a six-cylinder, and the M5 was originally SMG-only. So we decided to exploit the opportunity of stirring the 4.0 V8 old school style.
Perhaps the only indulgence was Interlagos blue paint; a $550 option. It was used exclusively on the E46 M3 Competition Package cars, so we thought we'd revive the legend.
Of course, we're inevitably going to change many of the expensive options on this car, like the CP lowering springs, EDC, 19'' wheels, etc. In part, we've got a ton of parts in the office and more on the way. We'll be working with BMW Performance as it unveils new M3 products, as well as Turner Motorsport, H&R Springs and several other BMW specialists. So stay tuned as this exciting project progresses.
Next month we hope to fit our first parts and look more closely at what's coming up.
In et 6/10, we finally decided to test air suspension on our '03 VW GTI 1.8T, fitting the Air Lift performance kit. The install was a great success and daily driving the bagged Mk4 has been trouble-free - check out the video at eurotuner.com or youtube.com/eurotuner
At the touch of a button, we can lift the chassis higher than factory ride height to avoid speed bumps or high curbs. Even with all the controversy regarding ride comfort, we can't complain about Air Lift's kit - our GTI even handles well enough for the street. However, we left the final install unfinished as time ran out. We didn't get a chance to notch the subframe in order to drop the car lower. We also weren't able to complete the trunk display.
As we were planning the next stage for the air setup, adversity struck, leaving us stranded in downtown Los Angeles... Sitting in traffic, the motor made some unusual sounds and suddenly... bang!
The motor ceased as oil rushed out from the pan. We had to call a tow truck to transport it home. And after a quick inspection, it appears a rod shot through the oil pan, although we haven't been able to tear the motor apart to decipher the problem.
Fear not! With the support of a new VW/Audi Specialist, Raven Motorsports in Long Beach, CA (ravenmotorsport.com) and Integrated Engineering (http://www.intengineering.com), Project Silverstone is in good hands for the next few weeks.
Raven will be in charge of dismantling the motor and diagnosing the problem. From there, Integrated Engineering recommended we rebuild our high-mileage 1.8T ready for more boost down the line. To do this, we've picked up Integrated Engineering's stroker kit, complete with 2.0L FSI crankshaft, Mahle pistons and Integrated's 20mm rods. In the coming months we will bring you updates with install tips, dyno results and online video.