By John Thorne – Wed, 18 Mar 2009 08:30
Well, this is my eighth M3 but the first that didn’t have either E46 or CSL in the name – our new E92 M3, I almost feel like I’m cheating on my wife!
Welcome to what we think is the Worlds first BMW E92 M3 car modification blog, here at TMS we are continually asked about what we do and how we approach road car tuning and race car preparation so we thought it would be a great idea to share this process with everyone. Over the next 18 months or so we are going to develop this completely standard E92 M3 into a highly modified road car on its way to a conversion to full GT race car to run in British GT in 2011/2 (assuming they let it in by then).
This is a tried and developed process that we essentially follow in our of our car upgrades, we always own the cars we develop as it allows us the flexibility to try different ideas before we release product to the market – no sense in releasing something unless we are sure it is the best possible. The E92 is a natural progression for us, our history and reputation is primarily based in the E46 M3 and CSL and this is a model that we will very much continue to specialise in, we still own 4 E46 M3’s and CSL’s although these are now moving on to full race cars for the CSL Cup a race series we helped created just for the E46 M3. Indeed my regular car for the last 3 years has been a CSL where we’ve taken the car from 350bhp to 400bhp, developed 4 different levels of suspension and three different levels of brake upgrades along with countless wheel, interior and bodywork upgrades which will are proud to have created. This car is now in the process of turning into a CSL Cup car and we will write a separate feature on this.
Back to the E92. Well we’ve obviously driven and worked on these for some time, lowering springs, Milltek exhausts are already available through us and we’ve been spending some time getting mapping and other work right but now we have our own car the work can really begin in earnest.
Well, compared to a standard E46 M3 its chalk and cheese, the 92 is heavier, less agile and a lot bigger than the outgoing E46, it does feel a lot like an M5 on first drives. Compared to a modified E46 M3 this difference is more marked and when compared to a modified CSL it feels positively slow in comparison which overall is a bit of a disappointment really. A CSL with 400bhp and 200kg less weight is always going to trounce it in the handling and track stakes but then it would be unfair to presume otherwise. However that’s where the negative feelings stop……the engine is stunning there is no other word for it. Low down RPM torque is strong, a lot stronger than the straight 6 in the E46 but amazingly the pull at 6k RPM feels even stronger – that’s impressive. Mid range feels the weak point in overall use but to have a V8 combine low rpm pull and high rpm power is pretty impressive, the sound isn’t too bad either although for a V8 it sounds nothing like what you’d expect. Overall the feeling is one of a strong engine but really being allowed to do what it can do – perfect base for tuning then!
Noise wise its disappointing, nothing compares to the CSL of course especially one with a full Milltek on it but I have to say I was expecting more from the E92. It sounds pretty good I guess and better than the standard E46 (the tinniness of the E46 always was a gripe point for most owners) but for nearly £60k list you’d expect more of an aural presence? It sort of reminds me of the idea that the E92 is targeting a different type of owner than the E46 was targeted for but I’m not buying that, I think its just a case of BMW going for sophistication at the expense of raw appeal, sad but understandable to some extent. The good news of course is that we can change that nicely J
So, engine is great, power is pretty average for the cars we’ve seen, ours has 10,000 miles on the clock so its pretty run in and we think there are some good gains to be had!
Well handling is both a revelation and a pain in equal measure. Smooth roads, roundabouts (of which we know a fair bit about here in Milton Keynes) are handled very well and the ride is extremely good. There is a lot of body roll (expected from a road car) but grip is maintained and the car feels like a typical M BMW – great chassis grip dumbed down to give better ride. The steering (with M button engaged) is a lot better than when its not but it does feel slightly over assisted especially at speed, push to hard and the car will under steer but there is power to move to over steer assuming you get the right gear. What was not so good was the B road performance, on the roads near my house I am ‘blessed’ by the usual crap UK quality, ostensibly its a major A/B road but in real life once you get above 50mph it all becomes a bit hard work. With the CSL running on KW Variant 3 suspension you’d expect it to be a bit of an animal and at silly speeds it is (passengers certainly confirm that) but the grip, poise and overall feeling of control is still there – its exciting but ultimately a controllable one. In comparison the E92 with its softer suspension seems to get out of shape far more quickly as it gets bumpier, grip is still there but you can almost feel the chassis groan at whats being asked of it? I’m convinced part of this is down to weight and partly down to the car being too softly sprung and over damped. As a general car though it is an impressive set of compromises, I’m looking forward to getting to grips with it.
Brakes are no where near as bad as the E46 ones (which are nigh on dangerous as standard), better calipers, much larger disks and general feel is pretty good, we will giving these more of a test in the coming weeks though.
Our car is an 57 plate manual with 10k on the clock and whilst its been pretty well cared for the overall condition could do with some TLC, so we invited Crystal Clear Detailing to come down and perform a ‘CC Ultimate’ to the car – check back in a few days!
Next stage is for us to set a base laptime round Silverstone national circuit, we use Silverstone as its local and we can get a lot of testing done there, once we got that done we’ll start to see where we get improvements, we’ll keep you posted.
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