Tag Archives: carbon fiber

2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive

When BMW says Competition, it means it, and then some …

Where to begin?

Once, maybe twice a year, a car arrives for testing that properly belongs on a racetrack as normal city and highway driving will not suffice, like putting pro athletes in a Juniors tournament with one arm tied behind their backs.

That was this week’s BMW M3 Competition xDrive, which might be better suited to running on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, or up at Road America. That Competition part of the name should serve as a major clue as to the sedan’s strengths.

Power is excessive, but I mean that in a good way. This AWD version’s twin-turbo I6 creates a massive 503 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Top speed is 180 mph and it’ll crush 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, BMW tells us. Car and Driver magazine reports 3.5 seconds to hit 60 mph. Whatever!

At the “base” level the M3 is no slouch either, its slightly detuned twin-turbo I6 makes 473 horsepower, but get this, it comes with a 6-speed manual. Not many sports sedans offer that in any form these days. BMW says it’ll do 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, if you can live with that.

Move up to the mid-grade Competition (no xDrive) and you’re back to 503 horses and a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds. So there ARE choices.

Coupled with BMW’s superb 8-speed automatic tranny, complete with big paddle shifters jutting out like antlers behind the steering wheel for manual gear selection, the shifts are silky smooth in the Competition xDrive. So there’s a bit of a luxury feel along with the race car vibe.

Watch Mark’s video: Mark Savage reviews the super bright 2022 BMW xDrive Competitiion – YouTube

Adding to that image for the test car was its retina-melting Sao Paulo Yellow paint job, very similar to the BMW-built MINI Cooper convertible I tested last summer. Some called it lime green, as it certainly has a greenish hue. Still, this baby is easy to find in a parking lot, and surprisingly at no extra charge.

Is this paint job bright enough for ya? Makes the M3 easy to find in a parking lot!

Further spiff comes from BMW’s Yas Marina blue and black leather interior, with touches of that bright yellow for trim. It adds $2,550 to the price tag, but worth every buck.

I’m not sure an interior ever got this much attention from riders and passersby, nor made me want a car as much as this does. The color mix, which some said looked a patriotic nod toward Ukraine, is stunning. Matched with the wild exterior this was easily the most exciting looking car I’ve driven in years, maybe since an Audi R8 14 years ago.

When I began this gig 30+ years ago, I never dreamt I’d see a BMW interior this wild.

As touted earlier, the power drives home the excitement, but the grip the xDrive AWD system adds, along with sports sedan steering precision makes the M3 special. This is the first time xDrive is available on the M3 and adds $4,100 to the sticker. Naturally there are some stout tires here too, Michelin Pilot Sport performance models, ZR19s in front and ZR20s in back.

Other than when it was wet, these fat boys hunkered down to the pavement like gum stuck on a shoe. That means crazy good cornering. My video guy, Paul, giggled like a pre-teen hearing mom cuss for the first time as we put the car through its paces on winding rural roads.

Bright blue and yellow give the interior a spark worth the extra dough!

Let’s see, rocket ship power, super adhesion, light and nimble handling, racy exterior and interior. What’s not to like?

Not much, really, but the ride is race car stiff, so urban pot holes and pavement cracks do stir the interior. Occasionally it was jolting, but mostly well controlled. Railroad tracks were surprisingly easy on the tush.

A few other performance points need addressing here. First, there was an M driver’s package on the test car, which adds $2,500 and raises the electronically controlled speed limiter from 155 to 180 mph. That will only help on the track, which is fine, because the package also includes a voucher for driver training at one of BMW’s two performance centers in the U.S.

Speaking of track time, the M3’s adjustable drive modes include Normal, Sport and Track. That last one optimizes power, shifts, steering effort, and suspension settings for the weekends you take the BMW to the track for an extracurricular workout. I used it to blast down a highway entry ramp and hit a 3-digit number higher than any I’d hit previously. (Do not try this at home!)

There also are adaptive dampers on the M3, plus adjustable brake pedal feel, particularly helpful if on track. A diffuser in back helps stabilize the car at speed and the rear spoiler should help too. It’s carbon fiber, as are the exterior mirror caps. That costs $4,700 extra. A carbon fiber roof is standard.

No flat-bottom wheel, but $3,800 carbon fiber race seats!

Carbon fiber trim is inside too ($950 extra) on the dash and console, plus the steering wheel’s hub. Oddly that wheel isn’t a racy flat-bottom model, which I’d expect. First, it would look the part, but more importantly it would free up some knee space that’s much needed by short drivers trying to extricate themselves from the race seats.

That’s right, the test car added carbon fiber race seats for $3,800. They fit the driver and front passenger like they are track bound with power adjustable side bolsters. These things are extremely comfy, once you drop into them, and that’s how you enter. Then they are as snug as Aunt Agnus hugging you after Thanksgiving dinner.

There’s simply no graceful way to crawl out of the seats, as high as those lower side bolsters are. A driver must pull up on the steering wheel (flip the tilt wheel all the way up and latch it), lift their behind onto the side bolster, and then turn the legs to the door for a less than attractive exit.

A trim tail with subtle wing and less subtle diffuser!

Ironically for such a sporty sedan there’s decent room in the rear seat for a couple adults and a nice sized trunk, in case the M3 needs to haul several sets of golf clubs, or four suitcases for a weekend trip.

There are, of course, all the usual safety features and a wireless charger, power trunk lid, and, get this, 8 actual pre-set buttons for the radio below the 12-inch info screen. Bravo! BMW keeps the console-mounted rotary knob as a redundant way to adjust the info screen.

Seats are heated, not cooled, up front and the steering wheel also is heated, part of the $1,800 executive package. That also includes remote start, the power trunk, an HUD and something called Gesture Control. It doesn’t stop the gestures you may wish, and it can be confusing and annoying. I found it randomly turning on the radio as I was talking (with my hands naturally) to a passenger. And I never could get it to turn up the radio volume with the swirl of a hand, as the screen suggested.

Other add-ons here (not all needed) included a parking assistance package for $800 that adds parking assistant plus, and a drive recorder (think aircraft black box); and M Drive professional for $900 that includes a lap timer (finally!) and onboard drift analysis, again something you’ll only use at the track unless you have extremely tolerant neighbors.

Snazzy multi-beam lights with blue accents.

The cooling, high-performance tire package adds the adaptive suspension, racy Michelin tires and special alloy wheels for $2,400.

If fuel economy matters to you then looking elsewhere is advisable. I got 18.4 mpg in about 60% highway driving and using an admittedly heavy foot when blasting up to highway speed. The EPA rates this AWD model at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Sadly premium fuel is required.

Price?

Surely you jest, and don’t call me Shirley! Base for this model is $77,895, including delivery. This one hit $95,895 with options. If you simply must save some cash, opt for either the “base” M3 at $71,095, or Competition model at $74,790, and reject the notion of options.

This is a street-legal racer for less than $100 grand and looks spectacular. Surely (I warned you) that counts for something!

FAST STATS: 2022 BMW M3 Competition xDrive

Hits: Racy looks, color and interior. Monster power, excellent handling and grip, AWD. Heated seats and wheel, wireless charger, big easy-to-use screen, 3 drive modes including Track, 8 pre-set radio buttons, spectacular looking interior, extreme seat support w/power bolsters, good trunk space.

Misses: Firm ride, prefers premium fuel, no flat-bottom wheel contributes to tough exit, price, and the annoying unpredictable gesture control. 

Made in: Munich, Germany

Fancy wheels and low-pro Michelin performance tires here!

Engine: 3.0-liter twin turbo I6, 503 hp/479 torque

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 3,890 lbs.

Wheelbase: 112.5 in.

Length: 189.1 in.

Cargo: 13.0 cu.ft.

MPG: 16/22

MPG: 18.4 (tested)

Base Price: $77,895 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $74,050

Options:

Yas Marina blue/black leather, $2,550

Parking assistance pkg. (parking assistant plus, drive recorder), $800

Executive pkg. (remote start, heated steering wheel, power tailgate, power trunk lid, Icon Adaptive LED w/Laserlight, wireless charging, gesture control, wifi hotspot), $1,800

M Drive professional (onboard drift analysis, lap timer), $00

Cooling, high-performance tire package (M tech pkg, adaptive M suspension & tire mobility kit, P245/40R19 Front & P255/40R19 rear high-perf tires, M double-spoke bi-color style 861M alloy wheels), $2,400

Carbon fiber trim, $950

M carbon fiber bucket seats, $3,800

M Driver pkg. (electronic speed limiter raised to 189 mph from 155, voucher for driver’s school at BMW Performance Center), $2,500

M Carbon exterior pkg. (carbon fiber spoiler, mirror hoods), $4,700

Test vehicle: $95,895

Sources: BMW, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

McLaren 600LT

Autoart creates a racy 1:18 scale Long Tail version …

McLaren knows a little something about supercars, and what it doesn’t know could be put inside an engineer’s pocket protector.

So when the British firm rejiggered its 570S supercar to create something a little less pricey and yet racetrack worthy it was no surprise the resulting 600LT (Long Tail) looked and drove like Spinal Tap turned up to 11. It’s wild!

Bathe that 600LT in a deep Volcano Red paint job and consider our jaws dropped!

That’s exactly what maestro 1:18 scale car maker Autoart did with the McLaren 600LT in one of its latest releases. Oh, and the trim is a beautiful imitation black carbon fiber. Blimey it’s beautiful!

The History

The track-bound Sports Series 600LT made its debut at England’s Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2018 and immediately snagged supercar intenders’ attention, both with its sleek lines and its impressive power-to-weight ratio.

While McLaren’s wild child Senna, based on the 720S, touts a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 making 789 horsepower, the 600LT is lighter so rattles off the same 0 to 60 mph run-up of 2.8 seconds. That’s with a smaller 3.8-liter turbo V8 coupled to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Horsepower is nearly 600 here (592 to be exact) and top speed is 204 mph. The 600LT does a quarter mile in just 10.4 seconds.

Heck, Bugattis with those credentials will run you $1 million plus, while the McLaren 600LT seems more entry-level at just $245,000.

In addition to that engine, the two-seater has cut 220 pounds from the girth of its kissin’ cousin, the 720S, while using its lightweight suspension and brake system. And the Long Tail? Well, it is 2 inches longer overall than a McLaren 570S.

The 600LT also features larger carbon fiber air intakes on the sides, a carbon fiber body and like all McLarens, a carbon fiber chassis. Inside is more carbon fiber, mainly the racing seats that customers first saw in the famous P1.

Disc brakes are carbon ceramic for racing and the tires are Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R models, with 19-inchers up front and 20-inchers in back.

Speaking of the rear, just a fixed spoiler here with diffuser below. No giant moveable rear wing that also serves as an air brake as in the Senna model.

In case you want the real deal, but plan to shop around. Consider a Ferrari 488 GTB or Lamborghini Huracan Performante.

The Model

               Us die-cast collectors are lucky to dodge the serious coin the motorized versions demand, yet Autoart’s model is as spectacular as any of the full-size supercars. And this one is as perfect in shape and paint job as any to date.

               This is no sealed body version either, the frunk and doors open and that black carbon fiber-look engine cover in back with its bulging exhaust ports comes off too. Beneath is a nicely detailed turbo V8 with hoses coming off the side and McLaren emblazoned on the engine’s cover, which also appears to be carbon fiber. You can see the chassis support system here too and the exhausts leading up to the top-side ports.

Oh, and the cover’s center portion appears to be a smoked or reinforced glass so you can see a bit of the engine through it, even when the cover is in place.

Like on the original car the carbon fiber rear wing is fixed and below that much of the tail is coated in that same black fiber all the way down to the diffuser and wrapping around the arrow-like rear lights.

Inside the frunk is a red fire extinguisher and the rest of it is lined with a felt-like material to match the original’s soft finish. The chin spoiler resembles carbon fiber, naturally and the front lights are full of what appear to be projector beams, at least five.

There’s a subtle McLaren logo on the frunk’s front edge and of course another chrome one embedded in the tail.

Black air intakes above each front wheel add more detail as do the black carbon fiber rocker panel ground effects skirts, which also tout 600LT labels.    

               Sexy black carbon fiber air vents and scoops run from the front wheel wells to just beyond the scissor doors and the roof also appears to be carbon fiber, and looks great.

               The broad windshield includes two big black wipers and there are giant black carbon fiber racing mirrors on either door’s front edge.

               Flip those scissor doors up and you get a good peak at the black racer’s interior, it’s high-backed, big-bolster racing seats, cloth shoulder belts with photo-etched clasps, a well-shaped dash with all the appropriate bulges and instrument cluster hood, and sharp dash and console instruments and displays. I like the silver-ringed air vents too. Those scissor doors have carbon fiber-look trim and mesh stereo speakers too.

               Down low the Pirelli P Zero tires are so labeled and wrap snuggly around black 10-spoke wheels with a McLaren swish at their center. Giant discs are visible behind the wheels as are red McLaren branded calipers.

Perhaps something here doesn’t meet your stylistic leanings or color palette?

Well, consider that Autoart also makes the 600LT available in Myan Orange, Fistral Blue, Sicilian Yellow, and Onyx Black all at the same $220.

Take your pick! 

Vital Stats: McLaren 600LT

Maker: Autoart
Scale: 1/18
Stock No.: 76035 (Volcano Red)
MSRP: $220

Link: Autoartmodels.com

Die-Cast: Autoart Aston Martin Vantage GTE Le Mans

Sexy Aston Martin Vantage a brilliant Le Mans racer … 

My appreciation of Aston Martin cars started as a 5-year-old with a little metal Matchbox DB2-4, was enhanced as a teen by watching James Bond mess up the bad guys in his DB5, and finally came full circle when I got to “briefly” test drive Aston’s new V12 Vantage at Road America in 2012. It’ll scoot!

But you know that and so does most of the automotive world that understands Aston Martin has racing at its heart. Vantage is simply its most recent racer that also is a road car. Its looks are divine, its interior sporty yet luxurious and its power mighty.

No wonder Autoart has reproduced one of the recent Vantage racers in 1/18 scale to reward Aston lovers around the globe. This is another fine composite die-cast sealed body model that will stun onlookers who see it on your display shelf. Continue reading Die-Cast: Autoart Aston Martin Vantage GTE Le Mans

2020 Mustang leaves Mopar guys snake bit

The Shelby guys have thought of everything with the racy 2020 Mustang GT 500 …

Two new hot rod Tangs!

By Paul Daniel and Mark Savage

PAUL: I sort of backed into loving Mopar stuff after Chrysler bought American Motors Corp. in the late 1980s. I’ve always been the kind of person who has a soft spot for the underdog. I’ve driven all the Challengers, with the exception of the Red Eye, and enjoy the driving experience they provide. In fact, if I could go out and buy a high-performance pony car I’d go buy one. That was until I drove the 2020 Mustang GT 500. Continue reading 2020 Mustang leaves Mopar guys snake bit

Die-cast: Autoart’s Bugatti Chiron

Wow, even in 1/18 scale this Bugatti rocks …

The Bugatti Chiron, where to begin?

Starting price is $2.6 million in round numbers, and the first 200 made sold out immediately, even before the first car was delivered. It’s possible we need a new term that’s greater than Supercar. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Bugatti Chiron

Die-cast: DNA’s Audi R8 LMX

New firm’s Audi R8 a blue beauty …

First, a welcome to DNA Collectibles, a Swiss company, new to the 1/18-scale die-cast car market. If its beautiful sample of the Audi R8 LMX is indicative of its quality, the market has another fine competitor. Continue reading Die-cast: DNA’s Audi R8 LMX

2017 Lexus GS F

Lexus GS F is a NASCAR wannabe in street clothes … 2017 Lexus GS F

            Unless your name is Hellcat or you sport some semblance of racing stripes and a hood scoop you’re not supposed to gurgle and pop with power if you’re simply a luxury sport sedan.

Ah, but the Lexus GS is everything from a fine luxury sedan to a NASCAR wannabe, a racer in street clothes.

A base GS 200t, you see, is equipped with a 241-horse 2.0-liter I4 that’s turbocharged. Oh that’s nice and sporty in its own way and a potential Lexus owner that’s pushing the limits of his home equity loan to snag one will shell out roughly $47 grand and change.

But there are so many other choices, two more engines and a hybrid model too. So say sayonara to that base model if you want to light up the tires and thumb your nose at German luxury sedans, or domestic muscle too. The tested GS F, or F Sport model is the sharp end of the GS line and it’ll flat out fly.

Reason?

No, it’s not a HEMI, but the Lexus has a sexy sounding V8 that’ll nearly put the roughly 4,000-pound sedan into orbit. The numbers are this, 5.0-liter V8 creating 467 horsepower and 389 lb.-ft. of torque. Don’t go pooh-poohing that because your Vette or Hellcat has more ponies. With its modest weight and a dandy drive mode system that allows you to go from Normal to Sport or Sport+, you’ll suddenly find the GS turning surly.2017 Lexus GS F

I was expecting good power, but punched the console’s drive mode button just as I was pulling onto the freeway and the rear-drive GS twitched its tail and rocketed up to, er, well, more than the standard highway speed before I was halfway down the entry ramp. Haven’t had this much fun since my last Vette drive, and that’s been a while. Continue reading 2017 Lexus GS F

Die-cast: Autoart’s 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak rally car a sexy winged warrior …2013 Peugeot 208 T16

I have to admit that European rally cars, the little high-powered mini racers with big engines and wings to match, fascinate me visually. They look tough and aggressive and fast and fun.

Now Autoart releases a sharp all black 1/18 scale version of the Peugeot 208 T16 that was raced up Pikes Peak here in the U.S. in 2013. It looks like it rocks with a giant wing on an equally giant pedestal and with tires so fat they look like they’d hold on to any road even if the car were upside down.

This is a beautiful little beast! Here’s the story on it.

The History

Rally superstar Sebastien Loeb (9 titles) was chosen to run this custom built Peugeot up Colorado’s Pikes Peak in 2013 to challenge the record time of 9:46.164 set a year earlier by Rhys Millen. Loeb crushed it, making the 19.9 km run in 8:13.878.2013 Peugeot 208 T16

The French Peugeot had to straighten 156 corners while climbing to Pikes Peak’s summit. The video is amazing (insert it), as there is no guard rail along the route that the likes of Bobby Unser and most of the other Unser clan have proven themselves champions through the years. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s 2013 Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

Die-cast: Chevy Corvette C7 Z06

Autoart creates a stellar Corvette C7 Z06 …Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Vettes are cool even if their current buyers are skewing gray and retired.

Still, you gotta have a little coin to own a new Vette, especially the Z06 model, one of the racier versions. A new one will cost you $79,500, so that’s why Autoart’s 1/18 scale version seems so reasonable at $160. Plus this one won’t run up your insurance payment of deplete your monthly fuel allowance!

Autoart now has several color choices in the newest Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, in Z06 trim. Our test model was a brilliant medium metallic blue. Some might call it electric blue.

The History

We all know the story. Chevy launched Corvette, a two-seat sports car in 1953. It was underpowered and not a big hit initially. But as its power grew, and its refinement with it, the Vette became a go-to car for club racers across North America and then serious racers who put what are now high-horse beasts, through their paces at the 24 Hours of LeMans in France.Autoart Chevrolet Corvette C7 Z06

Now in its seventh generation, the C7 is as refined, yet racy as any street-legal sports car out there, and a darn sight less pricey than many. The C7 debuted as a 2014 model and rumors persist that the next version will be mid-engine powered, but the C7 already abandoned Corvette’s roll-away headlights. Continue reading Die-cast: Chevy Corvette C7 Z06

Die-cast: Autoart’s Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C an Italian beauty …Autoart Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo has come and gone and come again to the U.S. market, but it has held a special place in the hearts of performance-oriented drivers in Europe consistently for 100+ years.

Now Alfa is back at it with the 4C in the United States, sold through its Fiat dealerships. Finally, Alfa has a sexy sports coupe to rekindle some of the excitement the brand carried here in the 1950s and ’60s.

Lucky us, since we can’t afford a motorized Alfa, Autoart has created a spiffy 1/18 scale version using its new composite material that looks as good, or better, than its die-cast models of the past.Autoart Alfa Romeo 4C

The History

Alfa has a long history with about as many twists and turns as an Italian Alpine mountain road has switchbacks. Continue reading Die-cast: Autoart’s Alfa Romeo 4C