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M3 goes touring with V10 power

2009-10-19 07:15
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer BMW
Model Manhart M3 Touring
Engine 5l V10
Power 410kW
Transmission Seven-speed SMG
Zero To Hundred 4.3 seconds
Top Speed 324km/h
Tyres F: 255/30ZR20, R: 295/25ZR20
BMW’s M3 range. For many, especially in four-door configuration, it’s the quintessential premium compact executive performance car.

Problem is though, when your life has spiralled out of control and there are two offspring and the dutiful family pet to transport, even the M3 sedan’s apparently boundless practicality is found, well, wanting.

Enter Manhart racing, a German tuning concern based in Geilenkirchen and renowned for its curious ability in transposing BMW’s V10 engines into 3 Series engine bays.

What the boys from Manhart racing have done is create possibly the world’s most desirable compact executive performance station wagon.

E91 chassis, E90 M3 details

The idea was to build an E90 M3 touring car - quite a noble cause.

To this end most of the styling bits, which look very neat, are in fact E90 M3 items, blended together seamlessly onto a stock 3 Series touring.

Peruse the styling details and you’ll immediately notice the M3 front apron, fenders, bonnet (with power dome), and low drag side mirrors. Where Manhart’s own surfacing details factor into the equation are those widened rear wheel arches and M3-styled aft apron.

All things considered, the styling package is subtle and the elongated profile of the 3 Series touring carries its M3 styling trinkets with aplomb.

Did somebody put the M5 touring in a tumble dryer and shrink it by accident?

S85 power in a 3 Series?

So, if this an M3 touring, it must have a manic 4l V8, right? Well, no, not quite.

As mentioned, Manhart’s technicians are just so in-love with BMW’s 5l V10 S85 powerplant they find any excuse to cut and grind a way to fit it into other, smaller, BMW applications.

Top chaps these Manhart guys, they clearly have their principles in order, which is why, under the power domed M3 bonnet you’ll find a tuned version of BMW’s redoubtable 5l V10.

Manhart reprograms the ECU parameters and liberates the engine’s gas exchange regime with a set of high-flow catalytic converters and stainless steel exhaust plumbing. The net result is 410kW, 37kW up on the stock S85 engine.

Quite how the manic 5l V10 lives its charmed existence in the claustrophobic confines of a 3 Series engine bay is beyond us, but we salute Manhart’s attempt all the same.

BMW's S85 5l V10 engine is undoubtedly a tight fit in the 3 Series engine bay, but an exercise well worth it...

M3 track, M5 torque distribution

With so much additional power (and increased mass above the front axle) you’d expect the M3 touring's traction to be perilous at best and its handling foibles lethal.

Fortunately Manhart had the foresight to widen the rear wheelarches in anticipation of accommodating a M3 rear axle instead of the stock 3 Series touring item.

Driving power to the rear axle is BMW’s extremely track focused seven-speed SMG transmission, whilst a genuine E60 M5 slippy diff does its best to distribute traction between the rear wheels with some remnant of control.

Keeping those four 20-inch wheels in contact with the road surface as exactly as possible is a Bilstein PSS10 coil-over damper kit at each wheel corner.

To ensure you’re able to quell (or catch and ride) a big powerslide with as much dexterity as possible, Manhart have binned the stock 3 Series steering system for an E90 M3’s, which foregoes most of the electric assistance for good old hydraulic power steering…

Brakes are substantially upgraded grooved rotors and six-pot calipers by Stoptech. Wheels are three-piece alloys by RÄD Monza (you'll either love or hate them) rolling Hankook Ventus S1 Evo tyres.

Monumental performance, as expected

Manhart claims on a quality traction surface 0-100km/h times of around 4.3 seconds are achievable, whilst top speed (derestricted) is 324km/h.

Essentially then, if you live in Nelspruit and would like to take your Labrador for a walk on Maputo’s Marginal each evening after work with the family, well, with the Manhart M3 touring this would be entirely doable…

Keeping tabs on the Manhart M3 touring’s speed is a beastly brake system upgrade courtesy of the imaginatively named Californian disc and caliper specialist Stoptech.

With rotors measuring 360mm in diameter (10mm larger than a M3’s) on the front axle and 355mm (5mm larger) aft, Manhart’s M3 touring should stop okay…

Rounding off the Manhart M3 touring is a sumptuous cabin refit including driver and front passenger BMW sourced sports seats, with Alcantara upholstery abounding on both seats and the door linings.

So if you’re lusting after V10-powered M3 touring practicality, Manhart will gladly oblige for the princely sum of 120 000 Euros.


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