Tag Archives: SLK-class

First ride E30 M3: Superb handling, engine and classic BMW styling

3 May

By Matt McCarron

What do you get when you take an E30 M3 in pristine condition, add a list of modifications as long as the Great Wall of China, some windy back roads and an experienced driver? A memorable experience, that’s what.

When GermanAutoNews was offered the chance to take a ride in an E30 M3, it didn’t take much time to come up with a decision. After all, this is the E30 M3 we’re taking about, a car synonymous with the S14, a high-revving inline four-cylinder that loves to be pushed above 3,000 rpm, and impeccable handling thanks in part to the vehicle’s 52 to 48 weight distribution. However, this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill E30 M3. In fact it’s about as far from the stock North American spec E30 M3 as it could possibly get.

1991 BMW E30 M3

This special E30 M3 was built by Turner Motorsport of Amesbury, Mass. To make this M3 stand out from the pack Turner went all-in with just about every option or upgrade available including a 2.5-liter stroker kit, stage 3 ported/polished head, Evo 3 throttle bodies, Evo 2 camshaft, B&B Triflow muffler, heavy duty clutch, lightweight flywheel, coilover suspension and a whole host of other improvements.

All of these improvements were evident as the M3 rounded the corner of Haigis Mall at UMass Amherst. The vehicle’s exhaust gave off a subtle yet undeniable drone as it made its way toward our camera, and the suspension could be seen trying to keep up with the never-ending bumps and dips that are much too prevalent around the UMass campus. The final component to be experienced before even entering the vehicle was the award-winning sound system, featuring two Focal 27VX 11″ subwoofers,  165EX 3-way and 136EX 2-way speakers and Precision Power 4400 and 2600 amplifiers.

As the ride began we hoped the owner and driver of the M3 would drive the car like it was supposed to be driven. And it didn’t take long to figured out the owner wasn’t intent on leisurely driving around town, all the while being careful to stay under 3,000 rpms and stay at the recommended speed limit.

Actually, from the moment we left the first stoplight it was apparent this was going to be a fun ride. So we fastened our seat belt and away we went. The 2.5-liter S14 screamed with ever-growing intensity as it roared towards redline, while the heavy duty clutch gave the ride a sudden and attention-grabbing snap as it ripped into the next gear. Both upshifts and downshifts came quickly, maybe even somewhat harshly, courtesy of the five-speed Dogleg transmission and upgraded drivetrain.

2.5-liter S14 with Evo II valve and intake cover paint design

The stiff and tight suspension, featuring coilovers along with upgraded camber plates, control arms, strut braces and sway bars made taking corners at high speeds a thing of beauty. There was practically no bending and no nose-diving whatsoever when carving through a corner. The 52 to 48 front to rear weight distribution really showed its worth on the back roads, allowing little to no understeer or oversteer.

As we made our way back toward the campus we really showed the under-appreciated power of the 2.5-liter S14. In today’s high-end, high-performance car industry, where more and more vehicles are approaching or eclipsing 500 horsepower, the 270 provided in this M3 might seem like a pathetic amount. I mean really, the Hyundai Sonata Turbo puts out 274 hp, but that doesn’t matter. The Sonata might have more horsepower, but the S14 delivers all 270 horses to the driver in an unforgettable crescendo of noise and emotion. The S14 screams and howls in ways modern engines just can’t match. In a world where naturally aspirated engines are increasingly being discontinued in favor of forced induction units, the S14 stands alone as one of the truly great naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines of all time.

Our ride in the E30 M3 showed us something. It isn’t the most powerful, quickest or most eye-catching vehicle we have been in. However, when push comes to shove it just might be the best. It combines a raw, un-computerized experience, something that is becoming harder and harder to find in today modern vehicles, and something we will not soon forget.

© 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

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Video: Onboard 1991 E30 M3 with 270 horsepower

3 May

Here’s a video of a very agile and powerful E30 M3. This vehicle has at least 78 more horsepower than a stock North American spec E30 M3, which has 192 hp.  This E30 M3 is a replica of the Sport Evolution (Evo III) version of the E30 M3. The Sport Evo was limited to 600 units and featured an enlarged 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine. It produced 238 horsepower and is considered to be the epitome of the legendary E3o model line.

Photos and story will follow soon.

© 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 York Auto Show 2011: E63 AMG gets new engine, forced induction

24 Apr

By Matt McCarron

The days of the 6.2-liter naturally aspirated engine are gradually coming to a close in many of the current AMG models. Mercedes-Benz unveiled the refreshed MY2012 E63 AMG at the 2011 New York International Auto Show on April 20 with a new power plant under the hood. The new engine, a 5.5-liter twin turbocharged V8 replaces the outgoing 6.2-liter naturally aspirated unit. The 5.5-liter blown beast produces 518 hp and 516 lb-ft, and can be increased to 550 hp and 590 lb-ft with the optional AMG Performance Package. Regardless of the impressive performance numbers Mercedes claims the new engine results in a 22 percent decrease in fuel consumption, in accordance the European Driving Cycle (EDC).

The new engine achieves increased fuel economy with the help of new technological gadgets. The MY2012 E63 AMG features an Eco stop/start system, which when placed in the Controlled Efficiency “C” mode shuts off the eight-cylinder engine when the vehicle comes to a stop. When in “C” mode, the vehicle as starts in second gear and shifts earlier, reducing the amount of fuel needed to power the vehicle. Another new feature adding to the increase fuel efficiency is an all-new electromechanical AMG steering system. The system doesn’t use any fuel when traveling in a straight line, rather only when the vehicle is being steered.

However, if you’re getting concerned the new E63 AMG might have lost some of its potency, fear not. In addition to the fuel sipping “C” mode, the seven-speed AMG Speedshift transmission also has the familiar “S” (Sport), “S+” (Sport plus) and “M” (Manual) modes which consume plenty of fuel.

The MY2012 E63 AMG also comes with an upgraded interior, complete with all of the leather-trimmed luxuries AMG customers have come to expect. Characteristic AMG exterior styling rounds out the package with new lightweight alloy wheels, wider front fenders and AMG rocker panels and a sports exhaust with chrome plated tips.

The new MY2012 E63 AMG will go on sale in the U.S. starting in the fall.

© 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 A-Class concept to be unveiled at 2011 NY auto show

7 Apr

By Matt McCarron

Mercedes-Benz has announced the all-new A-Class concept will make its North American debut at the 2011 New York International Auto Show later this month. In addition, the A-Class concept will also make its world debut at the Shanghai auto show this month.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class concept: Courtesy MB USA

The A-Class concept is a front wheel drive vehicle, powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, producing 210 horsepower. The new engine is part of Mercedes’ BlueEFFICIENCY line, meaning the A-Class concept will be able to deliver the performance Mercedes owners have come to expect, while have low emissions and excellent fuel economy. The turbocharged power plant isn’t the only new piece of technology on the A-Class concept. All 210 horses are transferred to the wheels via the new Mercedes duel clutch transmission.

Other technological firsts on the A-Class concept include being the first compact car to feature a radar-based collision warning system, that is backed up with Mercedes’ brake assist technology.

If size, appearance and horsepower count for anything, then you can expect the production version of the A-Class concept to compete directly with the BMW 128i and Audi A3.

© 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

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe unveiled

20 Mar

By Matt McCarron

Just months after the world premiere of the 2012 C-Class coupe at the Geneva Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the car which they hope will lay waste to competitors such as the Audi RS5, and current benchmark of two-door sports cars, the BMW M3.

The C63 AMG coupe will be powered by the same 6.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine in the C63 AMG sedan. The hand assembled power plant produces 451 hp and 443 lb-ft. This allows the C63 AMG coupe to accelerate from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds. Although the C63 AMG coupe produces more horsepower than either the M3 or RS5, the real difference is with the amount of torque. The 443 lb-ft in the C63 AMG coupe is significantly more than the M3 or Rs5, with 295 and 317 lb-ft respectively.

The C63 AMG coupe can become even more potent with the addition of the optional Mercedes-Benz Performance Package. The package utilizes technology from the SLS AMG including forged pistons, connecting rods and lightweight crankshaft. This reduces the weight by 6.6 pounds. The addition of this high-tech equipment results in a total horsepower output of 481 hp and reduces the 0-60 time to 4.3 seconds. Other benefits include an increase in top speed from 155 to 174 mph (electronically limited). In addition to the performance modifications, the Performance Package features a number of cosmetic changes to the exterior of the vehicle. This includes the variable intake manifold finished in titanium gray, the AMG high-performance braking system with two-piece front rotors and red painted brake calipers, a carbon fiber spoiler and the AMG performance steering wheel.

2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe: Courtesy Mercedes-Benz USA.

Ironically, for a car having so much power and torque the C63 AMG coupe also has a greener side. The high-revving V8 is mated with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 7-speed sports transmission. The transmission allows the driver to select from a variety of driving modes, including the Controlled Efficiency or “C” mode. This limits the amount of acceleration and makes the transmission shift early, resulting in improved fuel economy.

However, most customers who are in the market for a world-class high-performance coupe are not concerned about the amount of gasoline being consumed, and do not want to be driving around with slow, conservative transmission settings. Luckily the transmission in the C63 AMG coupe has faster and more aggressive settings. The “S”, “S+” and “M” modes are available at the touch of a button, with the gear changes in the “S+” and “M” modes taking only 100 milliseconds. The C63 AMG coupe also has a Race Start function to provide the best possible launch.

If the lighter and more nimble C63 AMG coupe is anything like it’s four-door sibling then BMW and Audi will be forced to take notice. Mercedes AMG seems to have its eyes on taking the top spot in the two-door sports car category and continues to develop and produce vehicles which are getting closer to doing just that. The C63 AMG coupe is scheduled to make its first appearance in U.S. showrooms starting in September.

© 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

Audi’s first hybrid SUV: the Q5 Hybrid Quattro

3 Mar

By Matt McCarron

Audi has unveiled the Q5 hybrid quattro, making Audi the latest competitor in the hybrid SUV market. The Q5 will compete with Porsche’s Cayenne S Hybrid and BMW’s ActiveHybrid X6.

Audi’s Q5 hybrid quattro will have significantly less horsepower and torque than either the Porsche or BMW variants. The Q5 hybrid quattro is powered by a 2.0-liter TFSI gasoline engine and an electric motor. The two power plants together creates 245 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. This allows the Q5 hybrid quattro to get an estimated 33 mpg.

In comparison, the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine, producing a whopping 400 HP between 5,500-6,400 rpm and 450 lb-ft of torque between 1,750-4,500 rpm. The added electric engine brings the total horsepower to 480. In terms of performance, the Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid falls in between the BMW and Audi. The Cayenne S Hybrid is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine, producing 333 HP. The electric motor produces 47 HP, bringing the total to 380.

Audi Q5 hybrid quattro: Photo Courtesy of http://www.insideline.com

The Q5 hybrid quattro is the first hybrid SUV to be very dependent on electric power, in order to achieve a sporty vehicle that can have excellent fuel efficiency. The electric motor can drive up to speeds of 62 mph on electric-only power. The electric motor’s capabilities is made possible by a lithium-ion battery weighing only 83 lbs.

The Q5 hybrid quattro is equipped with an 8-speed tiptronic transmission, which has been extensively modified to handle the power of both systems without the aid of a torque converter. In addition to the tiptronic transmission, the Q5 hybrid quattro features five different driving modes. These modes are operated depending on the manner in which the driver is operating the vehicle. When the Q5 hybrid quattro is stopped at traffic light both the internal combustion and electric systems are deactivated. When the driver releases the brake pedal the vehicle beings to operate on electric power, which is available up to 62 mph. The driver can also select the driving mode they would like via a button on the center console or gear selector. The “EV” mode gives priority to the electrical system when in city conditions. The other two options includes “D” mode, which gives the vehicle it best fuel efficiency, and “S’ mode if the driver chooses to enjoy a sportier drive.

Although the Q5 hybrid quattro is just that, a hybrid vehicle. It also retains it’s purpose and versatility as a SUV. The Q5 hybrid quattro is capable of towing loads up to 4,409 lbs. The Q5’s body and chassis structure is also the lightest available on the world hybrid SUV market. It utilizes aluminum and hot-shaped steel on many areas of the body, providing the Q5 hybrid quattro with a body that’s both lightweight and very strong.

The Q5 hybrid quattro is scheduled to make its first appearance in foreign showrooms in the late part of this year. Pricing hasn’t been released. However, based on the MSRP’s of the two 2.0-liter gasoline versions, the Q5 hybrid quattro should fall in low to mid $40,000 range.

© 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

F10 M5: First M5 to have fully automatic transmission

15 Feb

By Matt McCarron

Motor Trend announced yesterday the upcoming F10 M5 will be the first M5 in the history of the motorsport division to have a fully automatic transmission, with manumatic controls. This might come as quite a shock to many BMW M enthusiasts, many of which thought the F10 M5 would be equipped with either BMW’s Duel Clutch Transmission (DCT) or an updated version of the Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG), the latter being featured on the E60 M5.

F10 M5 Winter Testing: Courtesy motorauthority.com

The announcement of the automatic-only transmission is only the latest in a series of changes and developments that will make the new M5 very different from its predecessors. All previous generations of the BMW M5 have featured manual transmissions. The E28, E34 and E39 M5’s were only offered with a traditional manual transmission. The most recent generation, the E60 was developed for use with the SMG. However, after BMW received numerous letters from the U.S., insisting the car have a manual option, BMW chose to acknowledge their customers and offered the car with the option. All European-spec E60 M5’s were SMG only vehicles. In addition to the automatic-only transmission, the F10 M5 will also be the first M5 to utilize forced-induction technology. The F10 M5 will be powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8.

These two changes, the automatic transmission and forced-induction engine have forced BMW M to take a considerable, calculated risk with the F10 M5. Since BMW M began to produce production vehicles in the early 1980’s, their cars have been associated with having certain characteristics that distinguished M cars from the competition. Namely being naturally aspirated high-revolution engines, and features, such as a manual transmission, allowing the driver to be as connected to the vehicle as possible.

In choosing to move away from naturally aspirated engines and manual transmissions BMW risks losing some of their clientele, but might be able to attract new customers in the process.  Is it possible for a company to change many aspects of their philosophy, and keep true to their overall mission? BMW enthusiasts, M owners and the automotive industry will just have to wait and see.

© 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