Tag Archives: M3

BMW M Makes Splash with Four New Diesel Models

26 Jan

BMW M550d Sedan: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

It wasn’t long ago when there was only a handful of BMW M cars to choose from. BMW’s Motorsport division has sold the legendary M3 and M5 for over 25 years, with others along the way such as the M6, M Coupe and M Roadster. However, recently BMW’s high-performance brand has expanded and multiplied, completely changing their “M” (marketing) strategy, with the unveiling of the X5M and X6M SUV’s and 1M Coupe.

BMW M has also made a dramatic change in the types of engines used within the last 3 years, and this is reflected in the four new diesel vehicle. Gone are the days of Motorsport’s naturally-aspirated engines. With the introduction of the X5 and X6M BMW moved away from the traditionally higher-revving, but less fuel efficient naturally aspirated engines in favor of forced injection, known internally as TwinPower Turbo technology. TwinPower effectively combines the air entering the turbocharger in a way that gives you twice the power equivalent of conventional turbocharging.

BMW M550d Touring: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

Enter “BMW M Performance” models. The M550d xDrive Sedan, BMW M550d xDrive Touring, BMW X5 M50d and BMW X6 M50d diesels will spearhead this new model lineup. These vehicles are based on the current model lines, but as the name implies have been developed and improved by BMW M division. Changes to the engines, transmission, suspension and chassis result in increased performance, improved handling, practical everyday usability and excellent fuel economy.

Powering the M Performance lineup will be a new inline, six-cylinder diesel engine. Along with a 3.0-liter displacement the engine is aided by three, yes…three turbochargers. This, when paired with a diesel’s ability to produce massive amounts of torque result in 381 horsepower and 546 lb-ft of torque. Power is transferred to the wheels via an eight-speed sports automatic transmission with enhanced gearshift dynamics. Zero to 62 MPH performance figures vary from 5.4 seconds for the X5 M50d, to only 4.7 seconds in the M550d Sedan.

BMW X5 M50d: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

On the more economical side the new tri-turbo inline six achieves between 30.5 MPG in the X6 M50d and 37.3 MPG in the M550d xDrive. These numbers are possible due to an auto stop/start function and an ECO PRO mode.

Esthetic adornments on the exterior include exterior mirrors and air intake bars painted in Ferric Grey paintwork and trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes. Nineteen-inch M alloy wheels come on both the BMW M550d xDrive Sedan, Touring and X5 M50d. The X6 M50d gets 20-inch M alloy wheels and exclusive 20-inch M light-alloy wheels in Ferric Grey available as an option for all models.

BMW X6 M50d: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

Unique interior styling feature gearshift lever with M logo, M leather steering wheel with gearshift paddles and BMW Individual roof liner in Anthracite. Two trim choices are available, Brushed Aluminium Shadow in the BMW X5 M50d and BMW X6 M50d or Aluminium Hexagon in the BMW M550d xDrive. The M sport seats are finished in Nappa leather and Alcantara with contrast stitching and embossed M logo.

The four new diesel M vehicles are scheduled to go on sale in Europe beginning this summer, but whether or not these are destined for U.S. shores is yet to be determined.

New 3.0-liter Inline Six-Cylinder Diesel Engine with Three Turbochargers: Photo Courtesy BMW Group

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com


Technicolor Dream

11 Nov

By Matt McCarron

Aponte-Rios' E30 M3 makes its way down pit lane following a successful BMW CCA club race on Oct. 22 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Color. This word can be described as many different things, such as vividness of visual appearance resulting from the presence of brightly colored things. In the case of BMW enthusiast and BMW CCA racer Miguel Aponte-Rios’ 1989 E30 M3 race car it describes an over-the-top artistic individual expression of automotive art and represents one man’s long-term love affair with a car from his youth.


“The love for the E30 started back when I was in high school,” said Aponte-Rios.

Although he had always been a follower of all things fast and four-wheeled Aponte-Rios lacked the means to purchase the cars he wanted in his native Puerto Rico.

“I was into cars in Puerto Rico as much as I could. I could never afford anything. I had a Chevrolet Z24 Cavalier convertible,” he said, chuckling to himself. “That was my first ‘sort of’ fast car.”

Luckily, his time in the Z24 would be forgotten. Everything changed when his older brother received the very first E30 M3 to arrive on the island.

“As soon as it came in I just fell in love with it,” he said. “I was always drawing it, you know. As a teenager you’re always drawing stuff in class, it was all E30 M3s.”

His older brother might have owned one of the most desirable cars in the entire country, but it didn’t mean Aponte-Rios could take part in the driving pleasure or experience what the car was all about, as his brother refused to let him drive the car.

This problem went away when his brother had a change of heart during Aponte-Rios’ first week of college, letting him take the iconic M3 for the weekend. After getting a proper dose of BMW newest 4-cylinder creation he vowed to get one of his own.


As the years passed and Aponte-Rios moved from Puerto Rico to the United States his dreams of owning an E30 M3 took a back seat to other priorities. It wasn’t until a fateful move to Boston, Mass., from the Pacific Northwest in 1999 that would reignite his enthusiasm and uncover a newfound passion for autocross and racing. While living in the area his roommate encouraged Aponte-Rios to take his 1998 Z3 with a 2.8-liter, inline six cylinder to autocross events in the area. After taking his roommate up on the offer and attending a meeting at HMS Motorsport in Danvers, Mass., Aponte-Rios decided to give autocross and other performance driving events a shot. It didn’t take long for him to become hooked.

“I went to my first autocross with the Z3 as it was, and it was just completely awesome,” he recounted. “Within six months I had the HMS roll bar, two racing seats in the car, HMS harness, I started looking at suspension, all this stuff.”

After autocrossing for a few years Aponte-Rios started to get drawn to the racetrack, eventually becoming a certified high-performance driving instructor. During this time, while he was spending more and more time on the track, he moved from the Z3 to an M Roadster. After the M Roadster Aponte-Rios bought a 1995 3-series wide body, replacing the original race engine with a more powerful S54 sourced from a ’01-’06 E46 M3. The E36, with a strong power-to-weight ratio, was a perennial contender at BMW CCA club races and other sponsored races at such racetracks as New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS), Watkins Glen, New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) and the Monticello Motor Club.

Colorful, geometric lines originate from the left front wheel and conclude at the right rear bumper.


Regardless of his success with the wide body, Aponte-Rios was consistently faced with being overly quick compared to other cars he was racing against. Longing for a return to hard-nosed, fierce competition with fellow enthusiasts Aponte-Rios looked for something “challenging,” something other than simply mashing the throttle and pulling away from his competitors.

“With the wide body, in some ways, it was easier because the car was so fast,” he said. “A lot of times it got sort of boring.”

For years the Founder and President of Turner Motorsport, Will Turner, owned his own personal Alpine White E30 M3 track car. Aponte-Rios had urged Turner to sell him the vehicle, which sat unused for approximately four years, but to no avail. Even with the prospect of acquiring the car in doubt, Aponte-Rios told Turner he wanted to be the first one to know if the car was to come up for sale.

“I told him (Turner) when you decide to do it, I don’t care what happens, I want it,” he said.

Then, as Aponte-Rios debated what to do to improve and progress with his overall driving skills an Internet ad appeared that changed everything.  It just so happened that during this time Turner had decided to post his E30 M3 track car for sale online.

During the same time Aponte-Rios contacted a fellow driving instructor in New Jersey who had been “obsessed” with the wide body every time the car visited NJMP. Then, poof, as if by magic, just 24 hours after the phone call Aponte-Rios’ E36 wide body was gone to a new owner, leaving him with only one thing left to do, buy Will Turner’s E30 M3.

“It was hard seeing the wide body gone,” he said.

But his disappointment was short-lived as 36 hours after seeing the E36 leave on a trailer for the last time he was sitting in Will Turner’s office completing the paperwork for the purchase of the car he had wanted for more than 20 years.

“It was, sort of, meant to be I guess,” he said. “It just felt right, and it’s something I’ve always wanted since I was young.”

The E30 M3 before it underwent its technicolor transformation.


The car he had drawn endlessly during high school was now sitting in his garage, but Aponte-Rios had to decide what he wanted to do with the car. When purchased the M3 was in its original BMWCCA J-Stock racing configuration, meaning the vehicle was largely unchanged in many respects, especially the motor. The 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder S14 engine was completely untouched, except for a performance chip, while the rest of the car was outfitted with relatively minor modifications needed for track use and to operate within class guidelines. These included J-Stock suspension, Borla Cat-Back Exhaust, reinforcements to the front and rear sway bars and subframe, beefier differential mounts, carbon fiber brake duct system, stainless steel brake lines and a full roll cage. The exterior of the vehicle had recently been treated to a brand-new paint job in the original color. Alpine White has been a classic and popular paint color on BMWs for decades, with many factory-sponsored race cars donning the snowy white shade. Regardless of the shiny new paint, Aponte-Rios was again drawn to his childhood and the BMWs of yesteryear for inspiration.


Whether it was roll bars and racing seats on his Z3 or an extreme wide body kit on his E36, Aponte-Rios has always pushed for individuality in his cars.

“Throughout the history of the cars that I’ve had I’ve always tried to be unique in one way or another,” he said. “With the E30, it was the past of BMWs that was calling.”

With that thought in mind and a literal “blank canvas” standing before him Aponte-Rios decided to create his own interpretation of BMW art.

“I still remember during those early years when all the art cars started coming out. I figured to do something unique with the car, do something related to BMW Art Cars,” he said.

To put his plan into action Aponte-Rios contacted Image 4, a graphic design firm based in Manchester, N.H. The company owners, Jeff and Liz Baker, were more than willing to take on the project, especially considering their background as Spec Miata racers. As Aponte-Rios began to explain his visions about what he wanted the car to look like, designer Amanda Christensen started to draw potential designs for the vinyl wrap that would eventually cover the car. The final design for the car had two different symbolic meanings. The first had to do with Aponte-Rios’ appreciation for BMW Motorsport and the history of the brand.

“It has some meanings hidden in there. One of them is if you really look at the colors that are in it, it evokes the original, very early BMW Motorsport colors,” he said.

Second, and more importantly, the design and where the colors originate from on the car reinforced Aponte-Rios’ belief that good, fast driving on the racetrack all starts with the front driver’s side wheel and tire.

“To me the most important tire and wheel on the car is the driver’s front side. I feel like that’s the one that dictates everything. How close you get into a turn, how fast you go through a turn,” he said.

Work on the E30 M3 commenced on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Image 4’s headquarters with the laying and application of the vinyl graphic and continued for two full days. When Aponte-Rios brought the car to New Hampshire Motor Speedway the following weekend to take part in the BMW Autumn Festival and to race in various BMWCCA club races, a significant amount of fans and fellow racers stopped by the garage to inquire about the newly redesigned M3. And they did so with good reason. Aponte-Rios’ artistic rendition of BMW art is truly something to behold.

“I don’t want something that you go around the car and it’s all the same. I wanted something that looked different every corner you looked at it,” he said.

And that is exactly what Image 4 created. The sheer amount of color that emanates from the front driver’s side wheel arc looks like an explosion of color not seen since Jackson Pollock last picked up a paintbrush. As the design moves outward from the point of origin the geometric shapes and lines become wider and more pronounced in size, ending on the passenger side rear bumper. The characteristic flared fenders, front bumper and legendary round headlights give the E30 an aggressive appearance that compliments its otherwise outgoing and colorful personality.


With the artistic transformation and other upgrades complete Aponte-Rios was finally ready to realize the original mission he had set forth before buying the E30 M3, to return to competitive and fulfilling racing with BMWs, particularly other E30 M3s. Prior to racing the car at New Hampshire Aponte-Rios expressed his excitement in having to fight for position and face greater obstacles in overcoming his competitors on the track.

“With the E30 I feel like it’s definitely going to be more challenging,” he said. “It’s a totally different car. It’s not a ‘put your foot down and go’ car, it’s a momentum car, so the braking going into a turn, exiting a turn, driving through the turn is completely different.”

Before the series of club races at NHMS Aponte-Rios’ M3 had been moved from its former J-Stock class designation to M3T (M3 Touring), a higher class allowing drivers to make substantial changes and modifications to the vehicle’s engine, suspension and to reduce the overall weight. However, as the race began on the afternoon of Oct. 22, Aponte-Rios’ M3 was only placed in M3T due to a carbon fiber rear spoiler added following the purchase. In spite of the lack of modifications, Aponte-Rios and his E30 M3 claimed top honors for the M3T class in the three races he participated throughout the weekend, posting at best lap time of 1 minute 14.8 seconds.

Aponte-Rios' E30 M3 exits Turn 6 (The Bowl) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.


With the 2011 race season at an end for Miguel and his artsy M3, the car has begun to be prepared for the next round of appearances in the spring.

The first modification was to drastically drop the curb weight. All non-essential items from the interior and engine bay, such as the AC compressor, AC lines, power steering and heaps of plastic will be removed. Following the reduction of clutter on the interior the S14 power plant will also be removed and will undergo a large overhaul, increasing the output and making the car more suitable for M3T competition. It will include the addition of race cams, reprogramming of the electronic control unit (ECU) and other modifications allowed in the class. The E30 M3 will also be fitted with a host of improved and original OEM components to make the vehicle handle, stop and accelerate properly including coilover suspension, Eibach springs, stock brake rotors with racing pads on all four corners, fully-built 4.45 racing differential and a lightweight clutch and flywheel.

Despite the vibrant exterior design, under the hood and in the cockpit the car will retain its original color with a fresh coat of Alpine White paint. Ironically, it’s a straightforward switch that gives some contrast to this otherwise outrageous, one-off M3. The valve cover will be painted Alpine White.

Although BMW produced over 18,204 units worldwide, 5,300 in North America Aponte-Rios’ E30 M3 is special. It has an unequaled combination of provenance as a racing car, historical significance as a road car and one-off artistic styling; it’s truly one-of-a-kind.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

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POLL: Naturally Aspirated or Forced Injection?

15 Aug

By Matt McCarron

Next generation M3 to feature six cylinder engine

15 Aug

By Matt McCarron

British auto magazine Autocarhas reported that the upcoming fifth generation of the BMW M3 will be powered by a 3.0-liter, twin turbocharged engine. What do you think about BMW’s decision to abandon the traditional naturally-aspirated engine in favor of one with forced injection? For more information on the next M3 check out the entire Autocar article.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Lightweight BMW M3 CRT unveiled

27 Jun

By Matt McCarron

Limited Production BMW M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology): Courtesy BMW Group

Power to weight ratio in everything in racing. Less weight allows a vehicle to accelerate with less friction and drag, making it quicker and faster. Lowing the weight of a car also its improves, agility, responsiveness and overall handling. BMW Motorsport, established in 1972, has a long tradition of taking their regular street cars and creating lighter and more nimble versions. The past lightweight M3’s include the iconic 3.0 CSL as well as lightweight M3s developed for both the E36 and E46 chassis production runs.

This past weekend, in anticipation of the Nurburgring 24-hour race BMW M unveiled their latest slim and trim creation, the BMW M3 CRT (Carbon Racing Technology). Unfortunately for U.S customers the M3 CRT will only be available to those in the European market.

Unlike the two previous production lightweight M3’s, BMW M chose to use the E90 M3 four-door chassis as the basis for the M3 CRT. This M3 has trimmed down thanks to a substantial portion of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). The hood of the M3 CRT is made of CFRP, making it 50 percent lighter than the steel equivalent on the regular E90 M3. The innovative material is also used in the construction of the vehicles seats. The M3 CRT supports its passengers with bucket seats composed of recycled-paper honeycomb and an exterior covering of CFRP. The final spots where CFRP is utilized is on a portion of the front lip used to channel air, and on the rear spoiler. All of these weight reductions allow the M3 CRT to have an unladen weight that is 99 lbs less than the standard M3 sedan. According to BMW, if you take into account the interior changes the weight savings total 154 lbs.

M3 CRT with special rear spoiler: Courtesy BMW Group

In accordance with the rest of the vehicle BMW Motorsport has placed a special, enlarged version of the naturally-aspirated V8 power plant in the M3 CRT. The engine, which can also be found on the M3 GTS, has been increased from 4.0-liters to 4.4-liters. Both horsepower and torque have also been increased because of this. At its peak the 4.4-liter punches out 450 hp at 8,300 rpm, with the maximum torque of 324 lb-ft ready to go at 3,750 rpm. All 67 units of the M3 CRT feature the seven-speed M double-clutch transmission (DCT) with launch control. The added horsepower combined with the reduction in weight give the M3 CRT a power-to-weight ratio of 7.7 lbs per horsepower.

The M3 CRT only comes in one color, BMW Individual Frozen Polar Silver metallic with Melbourne Red accents on the side kidney grills and hood vents. The interior offers the same individual touches with special aluminum grain on the door panels and trim pieces. Rounding out the interior is an Alcantara-covered M steering wheel, and special Sakhir Orange and Black two-tone design that covers the lightweight bucket seats.

BMW CRT Individual two-tone interior: Courtesy BMW Group

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

New BMW 1-Series Revealed

6 Jun

By Matt McCarron

With the first generation of the 1-series in the rear view mirror BMW has unveiled the second generation of their smallest and most fuel efficient vehicles. The second generation (F20) promises to deliver a strong combination of efficiency, luxury, performance and aggressive styling.

BMW has chosen to stay consistent with the push to bring turbo technology to a growing number of their vehicles.  For the first time all models of the 1-series, including both gasoline and diesel engines feature BMW’s TwinPower turbo technology package, with twin-scroll turbocharger, high precision injection, Valvetronic and Double-Vanos variable valve control.. Five new 1-series models, two gas-powered and three diesels have been unveiled so far.

BMW 1-series 116i and 120d: Courtesy BMW North America

The 116i and 118i are the two gasoline-powered versions, with the diesel 116d, 118d and 120d rounding out the lineup. The 116i and 118i both feature a 1.6-liter four-cylinder in-line engine, producing 136 hp and 170 hp respectively.

The remaining three diesel variants all share the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder in-line engine. These also have the BMW TwinPower Turbo technology package and variable-geometry turbocharger with common-rail, magnetic-valve direct injection. Horsepower output varies from 116 hp in the entry level 116d to 184 hp in the 120d.

Not only do these engines feature the very latest in technology, but they’re also extremely fuel efficient. The 116d gets a  estimated 65.6 mph combined, significantly better than a Toyota Prius which gets 50 mph under the same conditions.

BMW 116i: Courtesy BMW North America

Although the new 1-series is loaded with Star Trek-like technology under the hood it’s not limited to just that area of the vehicle. The fuel-efficient engine can be mated to an optional eight-speed automatic transmission. It also has an Automatic Start/Stop function in both manual and automatic transmissions and ECO PRO mode which is activated using the driving experience switch.

To round out the new 1-series BMW has changed the dimensions to allow for more comfort and sportier styling.  The body has been expanded by 85 millimetres, wheelbase is 30 mm longer,  front track is 51 mm wider and rear track 72 mm wider. The interior height is unchanged, but the width has been expanded by 17 mm to give it a more spacious appearance. The result of all of these changes is 21 mm more rear legroom and a luggage compartment expanded from 11 to 23 cubic feet.

BMW did not opt to bring diesel or entry-level versions of the first generation 1-series to the U.S. It is still unclear whether or not BMW will change its marketing strategy and bring these new fun and fuel efficient BMW’s to the U.S. market. Hopefully they do, because 65 mpg, a manual transmission and turbocharged engine sound like the essence of getting the most bang for your buck.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster: New Details and Photos Released

28 May

By Matt McCarron

MY2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster in Sepang Bronze: Courtesy MB North America

On Thursday, May 5, Mercedes-Benz released its first details on their upcoming SLS AMG Roadster. Now Mercedes has released more information on the specifics of the vehicles as well as new photos. The car, which is the soft top version of the SLS AMG, is scheduled to make its world premiere at the 2011 Frankfurt International Auto Show in September.

Powered by a 6.2-liter front-mid engine producing 563 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque enables the SLS AMG Roadster to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds. The engine is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transaxle transmission and the new Adaptive AMG Sport Suspension with aluminum double wishbones.

The body and chassis of the SLS AMG Roadster is primarily comprised of aluminum. Fifty percent of the weight-optimized aluminum spaceframe is made of aluminum sections, 26 percent of sheet aluminum, 18 percent of cast aluminum and 6 percent of steel. The aluminum frame only weighs 536 pounds, 4.5 pounds more than the Gullwing, and results in the roadster weighing in an estimated 3,661 pounds, just 88 more than the Gullwing Coupe.

A new piece of technology to be featured on the SLS AMG Roadster is the AMG Drive Unit. Located in the center console The AMG Drive Unit is the central control for the vehicle and allows the driver to choose personal driving setups, including three suspension modes: “Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport plus.”

The SLS AMG Roadster also employs the new “AMG Performance Media,” a motorsport-inspired multimedia system that offers  numerous telemetric displays such as lateral and linear acceleration, various engine data and lap times on a racetrack. AMG Performance Media is activated by pressing the AMG key in the AMG Drive Unit. It also allows the driver to keep track on vital engine and transmission temperatures, output, torque and acceleration data and individual tire pressures.

This high-tech blend technology and raw power give the SLS AMG Roadster characteristics that will please even the most discerning enthusiasts.

Designo Leather Interior: Courtesy MB North America

The interior of the SLS AMG roadster is just as inspired and technologically as the exterior. Taking many cues from the aviation industry, the interior features a dashboard in the shape of a wing, the air vents resembling jet engines and the new E-SELECT lever is in the shape of an aircraft’s thrust control. Some of the standard options for the interior are heated AMG sports seats, COMAND with Navigation and DVD player, anti-theft alarm system with tow-away protection and interior monitoring and dual-zone automatic climate control. The interior is available in eight colors with the standard being black designo leather. Single-tone or two-tone designo leather in espresso brown is available as a new interior color too. To accompany the designo leather interior, various trim finishes including leather, matte-finished solid metal or carbon-fiber are available.

After hearing about all of these new details the anticipation continues to mount. If the SLS AMG Roadster is anything like the Gullwing Coupe then it will surely be something worth waiting for. September can not come soon enough.

MY2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster: Courtesy MB North America

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com