Auto Talent M3 – A Cheetah In Zebra’s Clothing
By Khiem Dinh
Khiem Dinh is an engineer for Honeywell Turbo Technologies at the time of this writing. All statements and opinions expressed by Khiem Dinh are solely those of Khiem Dinh and not reflective of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.
The BMW M3 has been the performance enthusiast’s choice within the BMW lineup for generations. The E36 generation is still an extremely popular track day vehicle due to its performance and value. The current generation E92 coupe could be considered the German equivalent of an American muscle car packing a 414hp, 4.0L, V8 that eclipses the magical 100hp/L mark for a normally aspirated engine.
|Auto Tecknic LED turn signals with black fender grills add a subtle touch of customization.
BMWs are renowned for their handling performance, period. When you think about the German sport coupe/sedan makes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes, the BMWs always handle the best. The E92 M3 has features such as a carbon fiber roof to remove weight from the highest point in the car to have the maximum benefit to handling. Many of the suspension components are made of aluminum instead of steel to shed weight and unsprung mass. Of course, BMW is no slouch at making high performance engines.
|Looks stock doesn’t it? Looks can be deceiving… Under the engine cover lurks a RD Sport RS46 engine package. Also hidden are the AFE air filter and RPI Scoops; the scoops provide a ram air effect along with sucking in cold air. Notice the German attention to engineering detail with the airbox also getting cool air from the rear inlet port that is fed from the small hood duct. Also, check out the factory strut tower bars that tie into the firewall to add chassis stiffness.
As the saying goes, there’s always room for improvement. Auto Talent, a speed shop based in West Lost Angeles, took the M3 and improved it in every performance aspect following the same basic formula as Porsche uses in creating its GT variants: add power, bolt on better suspension and brakes, and remove weight.
Auto Talent used a traditional muscle car approach to adding more power: add displacement! The Zebra now houses a RD Sport RS46 engine package that bumps the stock displacement from 4.0L to 4.6L. In the process, the horsepower was increased from 414hp to 525hp. To improve the breathing on the intake side, an AFE air filter along with RPI scoops are utilized.
|The Akrapovic Titanium Link Pipe is a work of art. Those that know sport bikes are very familiar with the highest standard of quality and performance offered by Akrapovic. Now, Akrapovic has brought their talents to making the best automotive exhaust components on the market. More BMW detail to performance is seen here with the flat underbody panels to reduce aerodynamic drag. Check out the driveshaft tunnel chassis brace and rear chassis bars that all aid in improving stiffness. Lastly, check out all of that heat shielding! I doubt there’s much of an issue with a hot transmission tunnel such as is common on Z06s and S2000s.
The selection in components for the exhaust side achieved two major goals of adding power and shaving weight. An Akrapovic Titanium Link Pipe replaces the factory mid-section. It features two high flowing 100 cpsi sports catalysts along with a pair of resonators to keep the exhaust note in check. The rear of the exhausts consists of a Meisterschaft Titanium dual muffler setup.