Just Car Blog
|Nurburgring in the USA: Car and Driver Intros 2013 Lightning Lap Contenders at VIR – Video||
Ever since lap times at the Nurburgring became a benchmark for a vehicle’s over-all performance, there has been a need to find a ‘benchmark’ track in the USA. Car and Driver, along with many other enthusiasts, think we already have such a track, the Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
Virginia International Raceway seems to be the ideal choice for testing a vehicle’s over-all performance dynamics. With the elevation changes, the Grand West Course’s 4.1 miles, 28 turns and proven effectiveness to challenge experienced race car drivers, VIR is the ideal home-grown Nurburgring. Car and Driver sets out to VIR for their Lightning Lap annual track torture test and brings us the official preview to the dueling test along with a run-down of the contenders. Enjoy the video below!
|Video: Rare Bi-Turbo Alpina B3 GT3 based on BMW 335i Pushed to the Max||
Christian Gebhardt, Sport Auto’s test drive editor, had a chance to get behind the wheel of an Alpina B3 GT3 based on the BMW 3-Series E92 335i and Alpina B3 S Bi-Turbo build. Honestly, I never knew there was such a thing as an Alpina B3 S Bi-Turbo, let alone the exclusive Alpina B3 GT3.
I have always admired the quant aftermarket build of Alpina BMW vehicles especially the long-running 7 series offered here in America. To my surprise, Alpina has taken the already-fast BMW 3 series 3.0-liter Bi-turbo to a new level all the way to 402 horsepower and 398 ft-lbs. of torque. Alpina used the same twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 in their B3 S Bi-Turbo and tweaked it a bit with the addition of an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system.
Of course the B3 GT3 is only available in Germany with 99 total units made. The particular hard-core Alpina B3 GT3 driven by Gebhardt, is featured in the video below hitting a top speed of 192 mph. The Alpina B3 GT3 is also good for reaching 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Check it out!
|2011 BMW 335is Coupe Review & Test Drive||
The all-new 2011 BMW 335is, having performance attributes surpassing the 3 Series lineup, continues a tradition of the 3 series being a benchmark for its segment outside of the BMW M-Motorsport vehicles. The new 335is blends added sport styling in addition to better handing and more horsepower to the already excellent 3 Series equation.
The 2011 BMW 335is, exclusively available for the North American market, essentially fills a gap between the 414 horsepower BMW M3 and the 300 horsepower 335i. The new 335is packs a serious punch in the form of 320 horsepower. Having driven both the new BMW M3 and 335i, it comes to me as a shocker that there was such a gap that needed to be filled. Either way, BMW has pulled out their arsenal of Motorsport additions to turn the 335i Coupe into a better alternative to the current M3.
My new 2011 BMW 335is test vehicle looks amazing with a Le Mans Blue Metallic paint job and sporty 19-inch split 5-spoke alloy wheels. BMW managed to keep styling of the 335is virtually the same as other 3 Series coupes continuing the E90 and E92 body cues introduced in 2007. Interestingly enough, the normal 335i gets a new N55 inline 6-cylinder engine with a singe dual-scroll turbocharger in place of a previous twin-turbo setup. However, for the 335is BMW decided to keep the N54 twin-turbo engine only reworking it to produce an extra 20 horsepower. From a tuners perspective, obtaining the extra ponies is an easy feat due to the massive potential of BMW’s potent N54 twin-turbocharged inline 6-cylinder powermill.
The new BMW 335is truly appeals more to the enthusiast crowd especially by including many M-Motorsport options as standard equipment such as the M-Sport steering wheel, door kick plates, stylish 19-inch alloy wheels, rear diffuser, sideskirts, and restyled front/rear bumper fascias. The sport suspension setup on the 335is comes just as any 335i coupe would.
The twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder producing 320 horsepower at 5,900 rpm and 332 ft-lbs. of torque at an extremely low 1,500 rpm makes for quick sports coupe. Throwing in my test vehicle’s optional 7-speed dual-clutch transmission makes things even snappier.
BMW took an approach to not only tune the 335is to breath a little better for more power, but they beefed up the cooling system as well to maintain durability from the added boost pressure. In terms of historically being a benchmark setter, the new BMW 335is is able to reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. If you are keeping 0-60mph records, then you will realize that is just a few tenths of second behind the M3.
Unleashing the new 335is at full throttle brings a smile to my face every time. The 7-speed DCT transmission banging through the gears with an excessive amount of backpressure loaded though the turbos wastegate is a pleasured audible event. No wonder the 335is is only available in North America; it may simply be too loud for the European markets. I just love that throaty sound!
A competent 6-speed manual transmission comes as standard equipment on the new 335is. The optional DCT –double-clutch unit, same as found on the new M3, shifts at blazing speeds making it an easy task to reach 60mph from a standstill in under 5 seconds. After many generations of automated manual gearboxes, BMW has got things right by mixing stunning performance in an easy to operate package. The 7-speed has an excellent control unit that makes it act much like an automatic transmission when starting and stopping the vehicle. Slipping of the clutch is almost seamless but on occasion you feel the system trying to figure out your next move. The 7-speed transmission can be shifted manually through steering wheel mounted paddle shifters or using the floor shifter. Additionally, the full-automatic mode is the default gear selection.
Power comes on early and is readily available at virtually any rpm range – even in 7th gear. An overboost feature works silently in the background giving the 335is extra power around 4500 rpm up to 7 seconds. Though, power never reaches above 320 horsepower.
Handling characteristics of the 335is are true to BMW starting with its well-balanced 50/50 weight distribution. The Dynamic-Traction control and stability control system (DSC) works beautifully stepping in delicately when its needed to put things back in line. Holding down the DSC button for about 7 seconds allows the 335is to turn into a wild beast under the mercy of the driver’s inputs. With stability control and traction control fully disabled, it is not difficult to light up the rear wheels even when accelerating from a rolling start. The surge of power from the spooling turbos is robust but smooth.
Whenever I get the opportunity to drive a new BMW, I always draw a comparison to my own E46 BMW M3. I can honestly say many of my ‘issues’ about my own car’s interior have been addressed over the years especially in the new 335is. The 335is interior is very inviting and subtly plush. Being that I am over 6-feet tall, the front seats provide plenty of space with room to spare. The front seats allow a lot of adjustability making it easy for those well-over 6 feet tall to find a comfortable seating position up front. Unfortunately this cannot be said about the rear seating areas of the 3 Series coupe. Although, I can ‘temporarily’ fit in the rear seats of the new 335is provided no normal sized human is in the seat in front of me.
BMW not only builds a driving machine that keeps the driver tuned to the road, but they successfully keep all other occupants entertained with excellent seating appointments. One feature to prove that point is the motorized seatbelt assist for front occupants. This is a convent feature that basically hands you the seatbelt so you are not required to reach an extra foot or two for your seatbelt. Of course the true enthusiast won’t mind taking the extra time to reach back behind him/her just to buckle their seatbelt. The not-so friendly passenger-side pop-out cup holders may have been an afterthought ever since the introduction of the current 3 series in 2007.
To set the 335is’ interior apart from other BMW 3 Series variants, the dashboard cluster gets special treatment with ‘335is’ logoed gauges and dashboard trim. The center stack’s high-resolution LCD wide-screen welcomes the use of the 4th generation of BMW’s iDrive system. Gadget geeks will love the new 3D navigation maps and smooth operation of iDrive which still takes some getting used too. I can honestly say that the iDrive system proved to be user-friendly after I spent 25 miles-worth of driving and 20 minutes of sitting in stopped traffic with it.
The Dakota leather seating surfaces are inviting as well as the Harmon Kardon stereo system with Bluetooth streaming and iPod/USB connectivity. For once, BMW has a decent audio system in the 3 Series that audiophiles can live with.
The new 2011 BMW 335is can be considered to be a track-focused sports coupe. Obviously the M3 is the ultimate choice for track junkies but there is a track-competitive nature about the new 335is. Considering that there are enthusiasts out there that do not want to opt for BMW’s highest-class 3 Series vehicle, the 335is may be their definitive compromise. Pricing for the 2011 335is, $50,150, starts much lower than the M3. Mind you my test vehicle was loaded up with several options bringing the total to $61,650, which is about $1000 more than the starting price of a new M3. This proves that the 335is is a viable option for those who want extra amenities, a little more performance than a normal 335i, and a few sporty ‘M-Motorsport’ styling characteristics that set it apart from the customary 3 series crowd.
Copyright: 2011 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base 335is Coupe $51,100 / As-Tested 335is Coupe $61,650
- Engine: 3.0-liter DOHC inline Twin-Turbo 6-cylinder 320 horsepower @ 5900 rpm / 332 ft-lbs. torque @ 1500 rpm
- Wheelbase: 108.7in.
- Total length: 181.9in.
- Total width: 70.2in.
- Total height: 54.9in.
- Track: f/r-59.1/59.3in.
- Headroom: f/r-36.4/35.8in.
- Legroom: f/r-41.8/33.7in.
- Fuel tank: 16.1-gallons
- Turning circle: 36.1-ft.
- Curb weight: 3,571lbs.
- EPA mileage: 17mpg/city, 24mpg/highway (DCT 7-speed transmission) 18mpg/city, 26mpg/highway (6-speed manual transmission)
- 0-60mph: 4.8 seconds
|2011 BMW 335i M Sport Review & Test Drive||
‘FURTHER REFINING THE ULTIMATE SMALL SEDAN’
It is always great to test drive the BMW 3 Series sedan because it is still technically at the top rung of all small luxury performance sedans, and for that reason it is also the best-selling premium vehicle in the world. For 2011 the 335i is fundamentally unchanged except for the new turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine, enabling even faster throttle response and an even small emissions signature.
The new 2011 335i that I tested came equipped with the optional M Sport Package which includes front and rear parking sensor control, 18in. alloy Star-spoke wheels, aluminum trim, sport seats, sport-tuned suspension, M steering wheel, M Shifter knob, aerodynamic bodykit, and anthracite headliner. The M Sport Package gives a more aggressive look, and adds to the excitement and driving pleasure when you are behind the wheel.
This new inline-6 engine, dubbed N55, displaces 3.0 liters and develops 300hp at 5,800rpm, with peak torque of 300lb.ft. available all the way from 1,200-5,000rpm. Redline is 7,000rpm. this is the same level of performance as the 3.0 liter twin-turbo inline-6 but with the innovation of twin-scroll technology and the integration of Valvetronic Double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing, this new engine is even more fuel efficient. This new all-aluminum, DOHC engine is the first BMW inline-6 to combine turbocharging, High-Precision direct fuel injection and Valvetronic variable intake technology. It features a single, mid-sized turbocharger with a ‘twin-scroll’ housing to boost performance and minimize the response lag. Thanks to its housing design which maintains proper separation between streams of exhaust gases, the turbocharger builds up pressure much faster than previous-generation turbochargers, this eliminating even the slightest tendency for lag.
Using Valvetronic Double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing for the first time on a turbocharged inline-6 allows the engine to ‘inhale’ air for combustion with virtually no delay and with reduced pumping losses. As a result, the engine makes power more quickly than ever before, and this is proven by the engine’s ability to reach peak torque at 1,200rpm, 200rpm earlier than its predecessor.
Turbocharging typically includes intercooling of the engine’s induction air, that is, cooling the compressed air that emerges, very much heated up by the compression process, from the turbocharger. Sometimes it’s done with coolant, in the case of the new N55 engine, it’s accomplished with outside air. Intercooling is necessary to reduce the temperature of the incoming air to preclude detonation or ‘knocking’ that can reduce power or, in the extreme, damage the engine. The N55 like all other current BMW engines, is equipped with knock control as part of the Digital Motor Electronics (DME) engine management system. On the N55 engine, the DME is now mounted directly to the top of the engine for better packaging and weight savings.
The 335i Sedan dual exhaust system runs at both sides of the vehicle. At low loads, a flag channels most gas through one side to reduce low-frequency exhaust ‘rumble’. The 335i sedan features an air-to-oil external oil cooler mounted in one wheel well as opposed to the previous engine’s coolant-to-oil unit. This new engine is so sweet, so precise and so high-revving. Just a slight tap of your foot on the throttle gets the rpm needle high-up in the tachometer. On the road the 1,200rpm peak 300lb.ft. of torque blasts the new 335i sedan out to 60mph from a standstill in just 5.4sec. and a top speed of 150mph when equipped with the M Sport Package.
Mated to this race-bred engine is a smooth shifting, fully synchronized, short throw, 6-speed manual transmission. Shifting is almost effortless and you ease up or down the gears and quickly push the new 335i to higher speeds. There is nothing more fun and exciting in a sport sedan than shifting the gears manually, it brings you closer to being an integral part of the Ultimate Driving Machine. This butter-smooth shifter is what came standard in my 335i or you can opt for the available 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.
Compared to the 5-speed unit it replaces, it’s lighter, has a more effective torque converter, operates with fewer internal clutches and can reduce fuel consumption, particularly at cruising speeds. In the 335i, and to appear in other models later, the automatic is the familiar ZF 6 HP 19, but in the TU, or Technically updated, form.
As in all other current BMW automatics, the Steptronic feature offers you a choice of Normal, Sport and Manual modes. Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive ranges are in the right gate of the shift lever. The Sport mode, in which shifts occur at higher engine speeds, is engaged by moving the lever leftward from D; the Manual mode is engaged when you manually choose a gear by tipping the lever or push the shift paddles located on the steering wheel spoke forward for downshifts, or rearward for upshifts.
Part and parcel of BMW’s tradition as the Ultimate Driving Machine is its sophisticated chassis technology. All 3 Series models come with BMW’s patented double-pivot strut-type front suspension with aluminum components for reduced unsprung weight, and a rear suspension using a 5-link setup that is engineered for a unique combination of agility and reassuring stability. The 335i M Sport-Tuned suspension tightens the setups, front and rear, for even more response to your inputs. The 335i M Sport just glides along whether you are cruising at high speeds or when you are challenging curving roads. The excitement builds when you enter a corner and turn the wheel. The response is so neutral and well balanced it feels like you are driving on rails as you enter and exit the turn. An imaginary curving wall appears on your left or right as you enter a corner at higher than posted speeds, not letting you stray from your chosen path. Much of this control is augmented by the standard Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control systems that vary the amount of throttle and brake force to keep the wheels with the most traction glued to the road.
Further enhancing that ‘glued to the road’ and ‘riding on rails’ feeling are the magnificent Bridgestone Pontenza REO50A low profile, high-performance tires that the 335i M Sport comes equipped with. The staggered setup includes 225/40R18in. front, and 255/35R18in. rear, tires that wrap around 18X8in. lightweight aluminum alloy, Star-spoke wheels that further reduces unsprung weight.
BMW’s steering is just as essential to the driving experience. All 3 Series models come standard with a hydraulic power-steering system whose road feel and precision are legendary; the 335i M Sport that I tested came with the Active Steering system which varies both the steering ratio and power assist to further enhance agility, particularly at low to medium driving speeds. Active Steering is another of those BMW innovations that truly has to be experienced to be believed. Just a slight turn of the wheel quickly and precisely changes you direction, just like on a racecar. The speed of the reaction to my inputs was phenomenal.
Even further enhancing the response and extreme handling capability of the new 335i is the 3-piece strut tower brace over the engine that adds rigidity to the front end. It only brings you closer to being another integral part of the car.
Quickly slowing the 335i M Sport sedan down from speed are large, 4-wheel, power- assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are 13.7in vented rotors clamped down on by four-piston calipers while the rear features 13.2in. vented rotors clamped down on by single-piston calipers. Increasing your braking power is standard ABS, brake fade compensation, brake drying and dynamic brake control. The brake pedal always felt linear as I applied the binders when I had to slow down as I drove in stop and go city traffic, or when carving up the curving mountain roads.
With all of these great dynamic driving features under the skin of the new 335i M Sport, once again the critics and pundits in America, and around the world proclaim the 335i as the best all-around driving small luxury sport sedan. I concur with their judgments. But this is only half of the virtues that make the new 2011 BMW 335i so great to drive.
Inside and outside sees new subtle details like a wider rear track enhancing the car’s planted-on-the-road stance, and new headlights, taillights and side sills. Even better ergonomics and esthetics lie inside.
Up front is a bolder front spoiler/bumper ensemble imparting a sportier, stronger character. Its center air intake is larger than before, enhancing the air supply for mechanical components; upswept lines in the lower air intakes channel air to the intercooler, the bumper itself and the newly shaped headlight clusters emphasize the wide stance. Double longitudinal hood lines, more 3-dimensional than ever, rise toward the steeply raked A-pillars and frame the hood’s power dome. New lighting features include the layered turn-signal lenses, and on models with the Xenon Adaptive headlights, BMW’s distinctive luminous rings now serve as Daytime Running lamps. Halogen free-form front foglamps light up the road during inclement weather. The optional Park Distance Control now includes front and rear monitoring.
Front the side the lower character line that runs from just behind the front wheel well to just ahead of the rear wheel well, is more prominently contoured and strongly expresses the low stance. On the Sport Package that I had a new high-gloss Shadowline (black) trim more elegantly frames the side windows.
At the rear and restating BMW’s traditional L-form are the taillight clusters with their two main segments for the taillights and turn signals composed of LED rows for an even higher-tech look than before. The trunk lid is newly shaped with a lip at the rear to increase downforce, and the 0.6in. wider track does its part to strengthen an already road-gripping stance. Down below are two polished stainless steel exhaust tips nicely spread apart at each end.
Open the front doors and check out the sporty, comfortable and luxurious interior. A giant slab of real aluminum is laid onto the dashboard from end to end and on the door trim. Newly refined materials, surfaces and colors add appeal; certain functional elements including the optional iDrive controller, dual climate and audio controls offer refined appearance and tactile qualities. The aluminum bezel instrument cluster is easy to see and understand. All switches, dials and levers are within easy reach. The stick shifter is perfectly located for easy and precise usage. The beefy M Sport leather-wrapped/tilt/telescoping steering wheel feels great in your hand and features buttons for the audio system, Drive Information System and Bluetooth hands-free communications.
The M Sport package leather-trimmed bucket seats are very comfortable and feature fully-adjustable bottom and seatback. Also include is power lumbar support control and power side-bolster control to firmly keep you in place when the spirit moves you to increase the level of the 335i’s driving dynamics on the open road, and when slicing and dicing along steep curving roads.
The doorsill trims with their distinctive BMW M script are new. The somewhat smaller iDrive controller has a fine galvanic surface, and is newly surrounded by the direct-select keys that enhance iDrive’s user-friendliness. There’s a larger storage tray in the center console including the auxiliary audio input and providing an appropriate place to lay an audio source. Door panel design has been refine too; on the driver’s door the power-window and mirror controls have been moved 2cm rearward for an easier, more natural reach.
Standard equipment not mentioned above includes keyless entry, start/stop ignition button; two-person memory for seats and outside mirrors, air-vents behind the center console, pull-down rear armrest with pop-out dual cupholders, power moonroof, heated dual power mirrors, door storage slots up front, and heated windshield washer jets for the rain-sensing variable intermittent wipers, cruise-control, self-dimming rearview mirror,
AM-FM stereo CD/MP3 player audio system with HD radio, auxiliary audio input for portable music players, adaptive brake lights, dual map lamps, grab handles above each door, an aluminum clad footrest, and thick floor mats front and rear.
Options in my 335i M Sport not mentioned above include Xenon Adaptive Headlights with dynamic auto-leveling and Corona headlight rings, heated front seats, iPod and USB adapter, Navigation system, Satellite radio with 1-year subscription, universal garage door opener, digital compass mirror and Titanium Silver Metallic paint.
Standard safety features include 3-point safety belts for all five seating positions with load limiters/pretensioners up front, front and rear head protection system, driver’s and front passenger airbags, seat-mounted front side-impact airbags, steel beams in each door, front and rear crumple zones.
The base price for the new 2011 BMW 335i is $40,600.00 and my loaded M Sport model was stickered at $52,275.00 including destination.
Just one test drive at your local BMW dealer will convince you that the new 335i luxury sport sedan is still at the ‘top rung’ of small sport luxury sedans.
Price: Base 335i Sedan $41,100 As-Tested 335i M Sport Sedan $52,275
Type: Compact Sedan
Where Built: Germany
EPA Class: Compact Cars
Length: 178.2 in.
Width: 71.5 in.
Height: 55.9 in.
Wheel Base: 108.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3593 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4652 lbs.
Front Head Room: 38.5 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 55.4 in.
Rear Head Room: 37.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 55.1 in.
Front Leg Room: 41.5 in.
Rear Leg Room: 34.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 12 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 12 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5
Number of Cylinders: 6
Engine Size: 3 liters
Engine Type: Inline 6
Horsepower: 300 hp
Max Horsepower: 5800 rpm
Torque: 300 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 1200 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.
0-60mph: 5.4 seconds
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.1 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Manual: 19 mpg / 28 mpg / 22 mpg
Range in Miles:
Manual: 305.9 mi. / 450.8 mi. / 354.2 mi.
|BMW Issues Recall for Turbocharged N54 Engine Equipped Vehicles||
You may have already been reading surprising information on BMW vehicles powered by the N54 turbocharged inline-6 engines about them having a defect regarding the high pressure fuel pump. Recently ABC News posted a story about many owners complaining of losing power while driving in certain vehicles equipped with the N54 engine due to a malfunctioning fuel pump forcing their car into ‘limp home’ mode. After the story, BMW announced they will be performing a recall on various vehicles including 2007-2010 135, 335, 535, X6, Z4 and 20,000 2008 X5s.
ABC is said to be continuing their investigation of the matter as well as the NHTSA. So far there have not been any related accidents or deaths from the matter, only a large amount of discouraged BMW owners. Some of angry owners are ‘repeat offenders’ for visiting the service department for the same issue that so far BMW has failed to completely resolve until now.
[source: ABC News]
BMW Recall Press Release [source: BMW]
BMW to Conduct Voluntary Emissions and Safety Recalls
* Press Release
Woodcliff Lake, NJ – October 26, 2010… BMW of North America has notified the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its intent to conduct a voluntary recall of some model year 2007-2010 BMWs equipped with twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engines, all of which feature BMW’s High Precision Injection direct fuel injection system. It has also asked for approval from the California Air Resources Board to conduct this action. Affected vehicles may experience a failure of the high-pressure fuel pump.
Symptoms include long-crank engine starting times along with the illumination of the “Service Engine Soon” light. In certain cases, the driver may experience reduced engine performance in a Safe Mode accompanied by a tone and the illumination of the “Engine Malfunction” light.
Based on the individual service history of the vehicle, the action will entail replacement of the high-pressure fuel pump and/or a software update.
Approximately 130,000 vehicles are potentially affected with about 40,000 expected to require a new high pressure fuel pump. Affected BMW models include:
* MY 2007–2010 335i models.
* MY 2008–2010 135i, 535i and X6 xDrive35i Sports Activity Coupes
* MY 2009 – 2010 Z4 Roadster sDrive35i
In a separate action, BMW has notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it will voluntarily recall approximately 20,800 MY 2008 X5 Sports Activity Vehicles equipped with normally-aspirated inline six-cylinder engines to replace the low-pressure fuel pump. In this case, should the fuel pump experience a failure, the engine will stop running and the driver will lose power assist for the steering and brakes although both the steering and the brakes remain operational.
Letters will be sent by First Class mail to owners of affected vehicles in the coming weeks, requesting the scheduling of a service appointment with an Authorized BMW Center to have the update performed.
No injuries have been reported with either of these issues.
In the case of either issue, if the customer experiences a problem, they should contact their authorized BMW Center. Customers with additional questions should contact BMW Customer Relations at 1-800-563-4269 or email CustomerRelations@bmwusa.com.