2011 BMW M3 Frozen Black Convertible: Smoked Out, High-Revving… but What Else?

LOCATION SPOTTED: World Pie (Bridgehampton)

LOCATION SPOTTED: World Pie Restaurant (Bridgehampton)

*Performance:

  • Acceleration 0 to 60: 4.8 sec
  • Braking 60 to 0: 108 feet
  • Quarter Mile: 13.0 sec
  • Skidpad: 0.86 g
  • Slalom: 67.8 mph

*These times are reflective of only the convertible E93 M3 with DCT trans. They are way  slower than those of the coupe and sedan because the E93 has around 441 pounds of extra weight to lug around, with no extra power to compensate.

The M3 is, in my opinion, the best all around sportscar currently made. It wins alll of the performance tests, has outstanding numbers for the price and luxury. It is the best combination of luxury and sport handling currently on the market today.

Now that that’s out of the way, I can identitfy a few cons of the current generation M3, There aren’t many, but it does have a somewhat awkward DCT shifter, and lousy fuel economy. Fortunately, the E90 and E92 M3 could be forgiven for their gas guzzling motors, because they both handle, and go very fast. Sadly, this is not true for the convertible M3.

The convertible M3 has a much much heavier curb weight, (4,145 pounds, vs. 3,704 pounds). Pretty much all of the plus points of the normal M3, are now compromised. Performance stats are lower across the board, including fuel economy. The already dismal reatings of 14 city and 20 highway miles per gallon, are now decreased by 1 on both counts. The BMW M3 is not worth it, unless you only want the V8 soundtrack and the looks, because the handling credentials just aren’t there, not anymore.

The lesser BMW 335i, makes more sense to purchase as a convertible. This is due to the fact, that the twin turbo 3.0 liter motor can be tuned (via Cobb AccessPort, Burger Tuning JB4 chip, Dinan ECU, etc.) to match or outperform the M3 and all it’s 414 horsepower glory. All for about 15 grand less. So, If you want an M3, get a coupe (or sedan predating 2012 model year). If you need a convertible, than just buy a 335i or 335is (which shares that wonderfully quick, though awkward looking DCT trans from the M3) and strap a JB4 chip to it for $500, you won’t be disappointed.

2012 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon: Damn Quick Station-Wagon

LOCATION SPOTTED: a side-street off of East Hampton Village

LOCATION SPOTTED: a side-street off of East Hampton Village

Performance:

  • 0 to 60: 4.0 sec
  • 60 to 0: 108 feet
  • Quarter Mile: 12.2 sec
  • Slalom: 70.4 mph
  • Skidpad: 0.94 g

The Cadillac CTS-V is a sledgehammer to the BMW M5 at 40 grand less money. It’s an American Eagle shooting the aristocratic European in the face. However, with a new M5 finally here, I am sad to report that the winning streak may in fact be over for the Cadillac.

Well, that’s not actually true at all. The Cadillac CTS-V is still a very competent performer in the high-performance mid-size sedan category, It’s just that it’s competition, like the new Mercedes E63 Biturbo and M5, have finally come to battle with their guns up. Needless to say, the brand new European cars are doing to the CTS-V, what the CTS-V did a while ago. No matter what people say about the BMW M5.

2012 BMW 335is Convertible: Budget M3 with better MPG?

LOCATION SPOTTED: Harbor Marina (Springs)

LOCATION SPOTTED: Harbor Marina (Springs)

Performance:

  • Acceleration 0 to 60: 5.1 sec convertible, 4.7 sec coupe
  • Quarter Mile: 13.3 sec coupe, 13.7 sec convertible
  • Braking 60 to 0: 111 feet coupe, 114 feet convertible
  • Slalom: 67.2 mph coupe, 66.0 mph convertible
  • Skidpad: 0.91 g both

Harbor Marina has recently become a true haven for exotic sports cars, however, this particular selection for this blog entry, is somewhat more obscure and kind of like a wolf in sheeps clothing to the untrained eye. The 335 is arguably the best small sports sedan ever.  It maintains a unique level of performance that simply can’t be matched by competetors (unless extra cash is spent i.e. Audi S4). In recent years, cars like the Audi S4 have become better, faster, and cheaper than ever before. This shoots up red flags to the eyes of BMW engineers, causing them to create a better competitor to challenge the S4. Enter, the 335is.

Some will argue that the M3 already competes with the Audi S4 and also the Infiniti G37 IPL, but not anymore. You see, ever since the introduction of the new E90, 92 M3 in 2008 and E93 in 2009, each of which with a 414 hp V8 engine, in place of the E46 M3’s 333 hp inline six, The M3 is one step above the competition, and the 335i is just on the edge of the mark. The 335is with a 20 hp bump in power and a 30 lb ft increase in torque helps fill that void in the 3-series line.

In a nutshell, the 335is has some of the major performance improvements from the M3, including transmission, suspension, and steering (the brakes and engine are not carried over).  There are also a few cosmetic improvements as well, including numerous “335is” badges indicating that this is not a regular 335i, and a bespoke front bumber difuser that makes even an M-Sport 335i look like a simpleton (well, not quite but it is still cooler than normal). The 335is makes the best compromise between outright performance and practicality. It gets 18/26 (city/highway) mpg which is only 1-2 mpg worse than the standard 335i, and it crushes the Infiniti G37 IPL in the sprint to 60 mph, even though it has 30 more horsepower (at 350 hp). This 335is has a tremendous sense of uniqueness from subtle interior touches to minor performance tweeks, this car is like a svelt punch to the faces of Audi and Infiniti.

2013 Mercedes SL63 AMG: Subtle Changes Matter

LOCATION SPOTTED: Towd Point (Southampton)

LOCATION SPOTTED:  North Sea (Southampton)

Those who have read my first posting, the one about the redesigned SL550, will know that I criticized it for it’s bloated styling and numb handling characteristics. However, history does seem to repeat itself, and whenever AMG (Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach) tuning company gets their hands on a Mercedes product, whatever negative qualities the car may have had, go away.

This SL63, especially in this color combination with large 20 in wheels, looks so much more purposeful than its lesser 550 sibling. AMG replaces or modifies the suspension, brakes, steering, and most importantly the engine. In fact, the engine is easily the most impressive part of this new edition to the AMG line.

This car comes standard with about 530 horsepower and 590 lb ft, very very impressive that’s more torque than the Camaro ZL1 muscle car. Now, if you want to occupy the very highest performance level in an SL63, than spec the AMG Performance Pack. This package costs around $9,000, and for that AMG will give you a whole new engine, that’s right, they give you an engine with lighter pistons made from forged magnesium to produce 30 more horsepower. Moreover, AMG engineers re-map the turbo pressure to deliver an almost catastrophic 660 lb ft of torque (155 more than a BMW M6).

Sure, this car is fast and incredibly capable on the racetrack, but in the same sense that this car is Bi-Turbocharged, it’s also Bi-Polar. It is very docile and easy to drive around in town and comes with every conceivable luxury feature anyone would expect from a high-end Mercedes. That’s the beauty of this car and all other AMG products (except for the C63, and Black Series models ), they can be very luxurious and very sporty at the same time. This combination of comfort and performance even helps non-car enthusiasts see the brighter side of performance versions of various automobiles. That’s why nearly 30 percent of all Mercedes sold are AMG versions.