LIFE WITH CARS
TTRS M POWER BLOCK
WORDS & SNAPS: PHIL ROYLE & TIM HUTTON
ROAD takes the latest , greatest, carbon-covered, Alpine White E92 BMW M3 ‘Edition’ for a blast with its older, double-hard bastard special edition M3... the cultish E46 CSL, to see what’s occurring with the M-Power uber-brand
ROAD Ed, Phil Royle In the CSL
shoulders above the rest of the Munich M-onsters, for me anyway, is the hardcore Despite their ‘get out E46 M3 CSL: A gorgeous of my way plebeian; I’m M-Power 3.2 litre lump; considerably more imporoffering up 355 bhp – detant and richer than yauo’ livered ruthlessly and with image, the BMW M3 has the single best straight six always been a special, qual- noise ever, via its cavernous ity, classic performance car: carbon airbox – at a heady From lightweight, perfectly 7900 rpm. Sweet. 0-60 mph balanced, race-bred E30, in just 4.8 seconds, devourright up to the high spec, ing the quarter mile in 13.20 high street C21st E92 you @ 110 mph and rocketing see later in this feature. on to a belting 161 mph VBut the one M3 that’s max... its performance, and always stood out head and the efficiency, and fun, in
the way it delivers it, is absolutely phenomenal. As are the CSL’s looks: 19inch rims, wrapped in semislicks, carbon fibre roof, lightweight Kevlar bucket seats, tactile suede steering wheel, whopping 345mm (328mm rear!) stoppers and a beautifully purposeful, mean stance. It’s a true man’s man motor. Then throw in its handling... which is nigh on perfect, with BMW’s usual attention to ideal 50:50 weight balance, the front wheels
Carbonfest is all over the gorgeous E46... roof, doors, bucket seats and, best of all, THAT monstrous airbox, which unleashes the single best full throttle sound from any straight six road car on planet earth. Slicks ace in dry, fun in the wet!
left to manage the superbly weighted steering and the chunky coffee grinder rear diff left to let the grunt rip, and the rear slip... it’s a power slider’s wet dream. The only thing I never got was why it couldn’t be a manual, and needed to come with a sluggish paddle-shifting, semi-auto ‘box, which only works well in Sports mode. Shame. Still, for me, it’s as close to perfection as the M-Power brand has ever come...in decades. Quality motor. roadmagazine.co.uk
Tim hutton on the M3 CSL Slide into the tight Alcatara buckets, finger the suede steering wheel and you’d be forgiven for thinking you had slipped into some kind of lean, mean racing machine. I haven’t of course, I’m sitting in the E46 CSL... and, boy, does it feel good, really bloody good in fact – offering far more sense of occasion than the E92 M3 ‘Edition’ I have kindly been given access to. It makes me feel like I want to take this bad boy to my favourite road and really put
it through its paces. Or, better still, out on a track day. There’s no denying the CSL is, or will become, a legend and, already residuals on tidy examples have
gone up. The CSL really is a phenomenal car. And I’m glad to see BMW are keeping the spirit alive with the ‘Edition’ and, better still, the super track focused GTS.
Tim hutton on the e92 M3
the oncoming cars, hedgerows blurred, sideways. Since that first BMW, I My very first BMW was an have dropped down hill E30 M3, Zinnobar Red, 215 gradually, to a E30 318is bhp with the cat and it had and then the well-known, the optional 16-inch cross well-stripped ROAD E36 spokes and a cool Evo 320i project car. While these steering wheel. I was 21, I cars aren’t M division modliked the look of them, but els, they still have a balance had no idea just how involv- and involvement that just ing the drive would be. In doesn’t come with other fact, the first few miles on brands. Sadly, the brilliant the test drive were hairy to E46 has eluded me. say the least: The adapBut right now, I’m at my tation to LHD was taking desk, looking longingly out longer than planned and I of the window at an Alpine shall never forget just how White BMW E92 ‘Edition.’ frightened the sales man But, what does that tag looked sitting next to me mean? Well for starters, heading straight towards like the E46 CSL, its got a
carbon roof that looks absolutely stunning against the bright, white paint. It has black nostrils and black rims, all finished off, with a 10mm suspension drop ‑ just enough to tighten the handling without compromising the ride too much. So that’s the outside, but how does it drive? Well, for starters, this model has the seven speed flappy paddle double clutch gearbox and while I don’t normally condone such things in a car made for driving, this box is by far the slickest I have had the pleasure of sampling and inspires confidence in your driving where
E92 M3 Edition harks back to the CSL in more ways than one: C-F roof, with lush fin, massive 19-in rims and burly brakes... but now gets a big V8 and swish, techy interior to satisfy C21st demands
normally I find it more of a distraction. So, it looks good and it changes gear well, but does it deliver that raw driving sensation of the E30. Naturally, being some 400Kg heavier... no. But then, in these safety conscious times, perhaps that kind of feel can’t be achieved in a car built to still take four people safely home, dayto-day and then turn trackmeister at the weekend. And this is where I think people are not really understanding the modern performance car. To conform to the current laws and safety regulations, many of our classic cars we love would
be altered beyond recognition. There then becomes a new challenge: To create as involving a car as possible but keep it safe, economic and green. And the ‘Edition’ does this with aplomb. In fact it smashes it. I took it up to London for the day, sat in traffic, ate much lunch in there and generally used it as a commuter, and it was great – quiet, smooth and fairly economical, V8 considering and it was a rather pleasant place to be. As the night drew in, I hooked up with the E46 CSL, and on the stroke of midnight, we headed out into town for a bit of fun. Sitting outside a
nightclub, a guy was on his knees worshipping the car. I’m guessing he liked it! We headed east into the Victorian tunnels and roads that make London the special place it is. And I won’t lie to you; when following the CSL there is not a hope in hell of hearing what the E92 V8 sounds like in a tunnel (it sounds good), but it has the CSL licked in almost all other areas. As legendary and cultish as the E46 CSL undeniably is, you can not deny that modernity rules. The E92 is a fabulous allrounder. We chase each other around the back streets for an hour or so, until the sky starts to lighten, then head back over to the Tea Hut on Chelsea bridge for a chat about the two cars. You can’t deny the Edition looks amazing, and it’s comfortable and whilst not as raucous, raw or rampant as the CSL, it isn’t as compromised either. Having been in the E92 most of the long day and into the night, I’m still feeling fresh at this point, while the CSL driver is looking decidedly doggy and ready for bed, after too much M-ania. The M-Power brand is still strong, very strong. And long may it continue to be so... roadmagazine.co.uk
M-Track to road
right now, because we are working to a very tight timescale – we only decided to go with the project in October. We want the car to This is interesting, as the be ready in March... On our GTS appears to be so side there are no plans for a much closer to the Motorroad version of this car…” sport ethos, than the curThinking of direct use rent positioning of M cars. of engines and also comMT: “Yes, we want to fosponents developed in the ter those closer ties and to Motorsport division, what Tony Braybon interviews Dr benefit more from them in about the crossover to Mario Theissen, Director of the future.” road cars, and also to the BMW Motorsport Is the existence of the M Division’s Performance GTS a good thing to keep Parts programme? The new M3 GTS looks M car fans happy and MT: “Traditionally it has very much like a motorreduce perceptions of a been quite separate. We sport product, whose car divergence between mothave developed racing parts is it really? orsport and the M Division and we have sold them. MT: Theissen smiles as he MT: “Yes, we have to keep From the M side, they have responds “It is an M car, but our strength on the perdeveloped performance with a close look at the M3 formance and racing side, parts for road cars and have GT4. We help each other, as well.” sold them. There certainly is we get the base car from M The V8-engined Z4 is an an opportunity to work more and turn it into a race car, interesting project. Will it closely together and develand apparently there are get M enthusiasts thinkop parts that can be used some areas where they can ing of a road version? on the track and also on benefit, such as with the MT: “The Z4 is something the road. With MINI, we are GTS.” that keeps us quite busy there, already, with the John Cooper Works programme. There are many parts developed for the MINI Challenge race programme, which are sold as performance parts for road cars.” See Tony Braybon’s full version of this interview with the director of BMW Motorsport at: www.skiddmark. com/interview-with-drmario-theissen-directorof-bmw-motorsport/
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Ken Block should need no introduction… DC Shoes cofounder, creator of the legendary gymkhana infomercials reaching an audience of 20 million worldwide - featuring his breath-taking driving skills in a 550 bhp Crawford Performance STi, and deeply cool creativity. Now, Ken’s a Ford WRC rally driver. ROAD Ed, Phil Royle hooks up with the all-round bodacious dude at the McRae Stages Rally for a light lunch Q&A
PR: Thanks for meeting up and talking to our ROAD readers Ken. How come you’re up here in the Scottish glens in Winter then? KB: I’ve wanted to come and do this small clubman rally run by the McRae’s since meeting Colin at the X-Games in 2006. We instantly hit it off, as we love the same things. He’s always been one of my biggest heroes – a real inspiration for me, and it was great to become mates with him… he came over to my place in the States and I came over here a few times; messing about in rally cars, on buggys and all the things we both loved. We got along really great. I miss him very much now (ditto, Ed), as all his fans do. He was a legend; on and off the rally stages.
though… he’s a legend too. PR: How did you get into rallying Ken, and when did you realise you had such a skill for car control? KB: My interest in rallying started watching Pikes Peak, and then the WRC. I’ve always had a real interest in extreme activities; skateboarding, snowboarding and the lifestyle that goes with it. And I loved rally driving and going sideways in cars, but initially thought I didn’t have the talent required to be a pro. Then, in 2004, I called Vermont Sports Cars and took lessons, and started to realise I had more talent than I thought I did… everything I do is basic rally car driving skills, inspired mostly by watching videos of all the great old rally drivers, like Colin, on the stages. I never feel like I’m driving, unless I’m right on the edge of the car’s limit. I make mistakes when I try and drive slowly. At full speed, I see the road clearly, but it’s a fine line to tread as you’re right on the edge. It’s about having a feeling for what the car is doing in its conditions. And lots and lots of practice…
“holy s**t this is good stuff!”
PR: And you were supposed to be the zero car for the McRae Stages, right? KB: Yeah, that’s right, but, after getting the car and crew from Crawford Performance all the way over here from the States, sadly, the scrutineers would not allow us to rally the car, according to the regulations over here, because the turbo is not fitted with a 34 mm restrictor! It’s most frustrating, but that’s life sometimes! PR: That seems a damn waste! There are 1000’s of fans lining the stages waiting to see you let rip in your awesome, gymkhana famous STi… KB: Yeah man, dead right. But rules are rules, I guess. At least they get to see Colin’s dad, Jimmy, out in his Cosworth
PR: Obviously! Do you remember your first rally event? KB: I got a drive in a Group N Impreza in New Hampshire in the Rally America Series, and I just loved it and got the car going very quickly. Then, for 2005, I hired the car and did really well, coming 4th overall in the championship and got awarded ‘Rookie of the year.’ That meant a lot. roadmagazine.co.uk
me on, and so the idea for the two gymkhanas came about… as a new way of subtly promoting the DC brand, while entertaining people. The first video was what I expected it to be, with all the moving 360’s and donuts… the second one was a step up, but I didn’t realise at the time just how good the footage would be. When I saw it for the first time, I thought ‘holy s**t’, this is good stuff!’ We keep things simple, use the sounds and focus on the movement of the car. It seems to work well… PR: Indeed, it’s absolute genius. They are brilliant marketing, and massive entertainment. So, what’s next for you Ken? KB: I can’t really talk about it, but we have some really cool plans to do some more gymkhanas and I hope to get out doing more rallying…. I’m at a crossroads now in my career, so we will see… (this interview was done before Ken got his Ford WRC drive). PR: And how did the infamous gymkhana infomercials come about Ken? KB: It all started when I decided to jump the rally Impreza 171-feet, with a very short, very small video, (which ended up getting 12,000,000 hits globally). It was filmed horribly - one of the guys out there took it all on a simple diggy camera. After that, we realised we could use the car and my driving talents to do something totally different. Colin said at the time… ‘if that jump is real, I’ll eat my boots!’ There was genuine appreciation from him and he really encouraged me, which really spurred roadmagazine.co.uk
PR: Thanks so much for your time talking to our ROAD readers Ken, and, whatever you do, best of luck with it all. We will be waiting with baited breath… cheers. Ken Block (& co-driver, Alex Gelsomino) are currently competing in the WRC in a Monster World Rally Team Focus WRC prepared by Malcolm Wilson’s M-Sport, with his first WRC outing being Rally Mexico on March 7th www.monsterworldrallyteam.com
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Quattro GURU: Phil Royle
Return of the quattro? Audiâ€™s 340 PS TT RS is here, bringing with it more than a touch of the magic that created a legend: Quattro
Vorsprung durch Technik – Advancement through Technology’ or ‘head start through technology’ as it is roughly translated from the German tongue – is, to its credit, 100 years old this year; as celebrated
so magnificently at the 2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed: With Audi’s awesome stand dominating the in-field area, showcasing its 5.2 FSi V10 R8, new S5 Cabriolet, 580 PS RS 6 saloon, the mighty
Le Mans winning R8 LMS and more legendary special stage eating Quattros than you could blast an air horn at. Ace! Also in the mix was this new TT RS, a car embodying the very
essence of C21st Vorsprung durch Technik; full to bursting with Audi innovation: Space frame, lightweight ally and steel hybrid shell. Five-cylinder TFSi turbo-technology 2.5-litre engine (developing
340PS from 5,400 rpm to 6,700 rpm and 450Nm from 1,600 rpm to 5,300 rpm, helping it crack 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, thanks to its rear-bias Quattro all wheel drive and going on to v-max at a limited 155
mph), and throttle map and suspension-boosting Sports mode ECU mapping. The £42,985 coupe and £44,885 Roadster definitely pay homage to the legendary, 1980’s recently re-cooled by Ashes to Ashes Quattro, hence why there is a right red baby here at the launch, setting the right tone. Clever PR. Audi say: “The genes of the revolutionary Audi Quattro coupes of the 1980’s have regrouped to form the new TT RS, a remarkable fusion of these two emotive modern day Audi emblems equipped with a new high-tech interpretation of the Quattro’s evocative fivecylinder turbo engine, now developing 340PS. The spiritual successor to the five-cylinder, 200PS+ turbo charged petrol engine that roadmagazine.co.uk
Usual Germanic Audi, precise, immaculate attention to detail, practicality, engineering innovation, design, form, function and, of course, branding genius. TT RS oozes quality, and appears to have few weaknesses in first drive impressions. Road trip soon, and track time, to find out what itâ€™s REALLY like...
delivered premier league power with a famously charismatic engine note in the rally-bred Quattro road cars of the Eighties blends that same unmistakable acoustic character with performance and economy that epitomises the modern day Audi RS.”
Putting the PR speak aside for one minute, Audi’s smart marketing bods and bodettes are bang on the money. This IS a modern day Quattro: Fast. Raw. Muscular. Grippy. And it’s got that big boost, fivecylinder howl, especially in Sport mode: Wastegate
flutter, back pops, flames... the lot. And it’ll certainly make you feel like herr Rohrl on the commute, for sure. It’s not as emotive as the Quattro of old, inevitably. But it’s sooooo much better a car. Engineering has moved on. A lot. Thankfully. Audi, like all serious
Going topless The TT RS, with its class-leading acceleration, top speed and economy, is also available in Roadster cabriolet form, for another £1,900. The hood is slick to operate, as we found out, dashing between rain storms, which certainly proved the Quattro system worked, as does the climate control to de-mist! OK in Spain. Nah in Blighty...!!!
sports car manufacturers, are taking climate change, seriously. The market demands performance cars to be as lean and green as possible. And the TT RS is just that: Aerodynamic. Frugal (to the tune of over 31 mpg). And yet still barn-
stormingly ballistic. And it can wear the Quattro badge proudly, creating frankly ridiculous amounts of grip, but allowing a fair bit of slip, with an active back end; which is just what the chassis and engine deserves. Not to mention the driver. Hoorah! Pounding down the country lanes of beautiful Berkshire, the TT RS is darn quick, capable of some insane cornering speeds (even in the wet, as it was on this test), it sounds wonderful (you can hear a hint of the fire-breathing rally slags in its dulcet tones, echoing off the woodlands) and is a bloody nice, if Germanic (which I like) place to be. Pulling up for tea and cake in hoorarh Henley (the
TT RS fits nobby town life just as happily as it nails b-roads, motorways and the daily commute), I pick a spec: Black. 174 mph de-limiter (£1,300), sports exhaust (£850), RS bucket seats (£3,530), 19-inch rims (£1,200), and matt ally pack (£650) and suddenly, the coupe is £47,515: Well, you get what you pay for in life...
THANKS Thanks to Jon, David, Robin, Kate, Juliet, Louise, Martyn and all at Audi for running such a good launch event, as ever. And well done to Audi for bringing the legendary Quattro back to life... in C21st form. Happy 100th!
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LIFE WITH CARS
Published on Mar 6, 2010
NEW ROAD – This week containing an EXCLUSIVE interview with new WRC driver and internet sensation, Ken Block, an M-Power special and a road...