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BMW M3 Power

| BMW, Car Reviews, Sri Lanka, Test Drives | November 4, 2012

BMW M3 Power

Sri Lanka tends to have seemingly more than its fair share of unique and exotic cars – well at least one of each. In this case, we feature the only and very special, rip-snorting BMW M3 in the country.

The M3 legend
A quick bit of history: the very first M3 was launched in 1986 with the E30 model. Built as part of a racing homologation requirement for the World Touring Car Championship, it featured a 2.3L 4 cylinder engine which produced only 192 bhp, revised track and suspension, flared wheel arches and a more aerodynamic body kit than the standard car. Though the specs may not sound impressive, the exquisite handling balance of the car made it a legend and the original E30 M3 is one of the most revered sports cars even today.

Every new BMW 3 Series model hence featured an M3 model and they came in a number of guises such as coupe, convertible and sedan.

The E46 model was the 3rd generation M3 and came in Coupe and Convertible form. It featured a fabulous 3.2L straight six engine with a double VANOS system featuring 6 independent throttle bodies and which pumped out 343 hp. It had a 6 speed Getrag gearbox with an electro-hydraulically actuated clutch and subtle but beefy wheel arches and body kit.

Not your normal M3
An E46 M3 Coupe is very special on it’s own right, respected as one of the finest sports cars of all time. But we Sri Lankans don’t settle for any ordinary M3 coupe. This car we have is a top of the line M3 which features a full factory CSL mechanical upgrade.

What’s CSL? Well it stands for Coupe Sport Lightweight and denoted a very limited run of a stripped out M3 version, which had an upgraded engine and some exotic chassis and body part modifications. It was a very much a track attack car with niceties such as air conditioning and radio stripped out. The CSL held a Nurburgring of 7 min 50 Secs Record. Anything under 8 minutes here is held as a minor miracle.

While that was a pretty hardcore car to own and drive, the M3 we have here strikes a nice balance where all the luxuries (AC, Harmon Kardon Stereo, leather everything, et al) are left in place should we go mad in our weather, but has all the tasty mechanicals of the CSL – and then some.

To start with, the standard CSL engine was modified to produce 360 hp. The engine features revised engine management, more exotic camshafts, valves and an enormous high flow carbon fibre intake whose mouth would scare a baby whale shark. Our car here car has then had an engine remap to produce a genuinely dyno’d 420 bhp. Yum.

Other CSL mods to the chassis feature a sharper steering rack, carbon fibre flywheel, sports diff’, racings springs and dampers and eight pot racing calipers with carbon pads. Larger 19” alloys featuring 255/35 tyres at the back fill in the wheel arches rather nicely. There’s also an Eisenmann high flow exhaust system with four barrels at the back to ensure that you know what this beast is.

Quiet but armed
The M3 here is finished in a very subtle metallic midnight blue and just a few subtle M3 badges on the boot and the front wing vents. The muscular wheel arches and larger front spoiler do provide a quietly menacing look to ensure you don’t mistake it for a common or garden variety 320i.

The interior is built in a typical BMW granite solid manner with a driver focused centre console cocooning you while you hold on to that small leather clad sports steering wheel. The dark grey of the dash is played off beautifully with wine coloured leather sports seats and door trim.

Velvet sledgehammer
Our early morning drive requires some pre-heating for the engine to get to maximum attack speed. The engine management system automatically limits revs until the engine has reached its optimal temperature. Once it’s ready for action, you press the fun button which is the little Sport button on the dash. It immediately changes the engine map and readies the car for maximum attack. The car (which is so quiet at idle) emits a mighty race car rasp as it sears through the gears. In virtually all gears the mountainous acceleration tries to embed your kidneys into the comfy sports seats. I’ve left all the driving this time to the racing driver owner and was glad to. Because this engine loves to rev. You reach the redline sub seconds in the first few ratios and you need to be quick to catch them, and my driver toes and heels to perfection to blip the engine through the gear changes. The pedals are beautifully spaced for such and the engine management works smartly to ensure you don’t need much accelerator travel to perform the little blips to ensure seamless gear changes.

The peachy chassis conveys its excellence even to the passenger. Grip is phenomenal and the tyres don’t squeal once even when powering through corners at exotic speeds. Body roll doesn’t even come into play and the ride is remarkably pliant even with sports suspension and the tiny lick of rubber over those massive 19” wheels. The overall sense of solidity and surefootedness is the mark of a genuinely top drawer chassis.

The LSD, traction control and smart electronics work subtly to ensure the car stays on the road but doesn’t feel intrusive and lets you enjoy the car at the limit. We decide to be a bit rowdy, turn the traction control off to experience one of the smoothest and effortless doughnuts I’ve experienced. No drama, just turn the wheel, prod the fast pedal and you’ve done a quick, quiet, super controlled 90 degree turnaround.

This M3 originally came here as a race car experiment and luckily didn’t see too much track action. It’s now in the safe hands of one of Sri Lanka’s premier racing
drivers who unsurprisingly fell in hard and fast in love with the car upon first sight. This car won’t tolerate fools in the wrong hands, so with the current owner, it’s very unlikely to be found wrapped around a tree like some of our other exotics sadly have been over the last few years. He refers lovingly to M3 as ‘she’ and ‘her’ in his descriptions of its behaviour, and that gives you an idea of how much this car has endeared itself (sorry, herself) to the chap.

With this delight of a car – subtle but delicious looks, physics altering power, a honey smooth chassis and all the luxurious goodies you’d want – who wouldn’t be?

Specs

    Model: BMW M3 Coupe (E46)
    Engine: 3,245 cc, in-line six cylinder, 4 valves / cylinder, DOHC
    Power: 420bhp (upgraded)
    Torque: 365+ Nm
    Gearbox: 6 Speed, Manual
    Drive: Rear wheel drive
    Weight: 1542 kg
    Length / Width / Height: 4490 mm / 1780 mm / 1370 mm

Performance

    0-62 mph: Less than 5 secs
    Top Speed: 155mph (restricted)

Motor Magazine
(Source: Motor Magazine)