BMW M3 Touring: Inside the "comprehensive" tuning program

BMW M3 Touring: Inside the “comprehensive” tuning program

The BMW M3 Touring 2023 is the first production M3 wagon, but if the team behind its suspension system does its job, it should feel just like the sedan.

Frank Weishar does not consider himself a professional racing driver, but he has driven the Nürburgring 24 Hours at least 12 times. He has also achieved countless test cycles over Europe in various prototypes of the first ever BMW M3 Competition Touring.

His main assignment these days is to lead the Driving Dynamics Project for the G81, also known as the M3 Touring.

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The man accused of ripping up the popular Goodwood Hillclimb buggy this year was in front of thousands of fans who likely witnessed the year’s “rescue”, pushing the mighty buggy to the limits of stickiness.

In an exclusive interview right after his run at Goodwood, Frank tells CarExpert that development of the Touring is almost complete, with only minor tweaks necessary before its impending signature and debut later this year.

“From the beginning of the development of the M3 Touring, our main goal for the car has been for the driver to never realize he was sitting in the Touring body unless he’s looking in the rear-view mirror,” he said.

“I am happy to say that it was the prevailing opinion of everyone who drove the car in its final stages of development.”

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The process was extensive and included no less than 120 laps in Nordschleife for endurance testing, followed by additional laps to fine-tune the Sport+ and Sport suspension settings.

“Not only did we use Nordschleife, but we also ran the M3 Touring on different tracks like Sachsenring, the GP circuit there and Hockenheim to provide a lot of versatility in the dynamic tuning of the car,” explained Mr. Weishar.

“For example, to create the Comfort setting, we used the various roads around the Nürburgring as well as the high-speed motorways and local roads around Munich to get the best result.”

BMW had the regular M3 competition as a donor car for the M3 Touring project. According to Frank, serious work began on Touring once the transfer of the front and rear axles was completed, and the rear wheelbarrow guards were expanded to house the larger set of wheels and tires.

supplied attributed to him: carbert
supplied attributed to him: carbert
supplied attributed to him: carbert

“We had to implement a comprehensive tuning program covering the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars to take into account the M3 Touring’s additional length and weight, which is around 85kg, mostly in the rear,” he said. .

“This means that the entire hydraulic system on both ends is unique to the M3 Touring, so we get the right balance between the front and rear axles.

“We tried not to do too much with the standard Touring 3 Series anti-roll bars as we found that you can get some unwanted movement in the car if you make it too stiff, so we worked on spring rates instead to get a better result.”

Prototypes of the M3 Touring have already scored great times around Nordschleife, with an official run of 7:30.00 – not much slower than the upcoming M4 CSL, which is an impressive feat in itself.

M3 Touring takes on the Nürburgring attributed to him: carbert

“It looks like a sedan, really quiet,” Frank said. “You don’t have to do much with routing even through the high-speed sections of Nordschleife.”

“The car is really easy to handle in fast turns, and with the quick changes in direction I would say the car is mostly neutral but with so little or less contact that you can really throw it from corner to corner, without losing the rear.”

One of the M3 Touring’s unique features that affects the steering is the little wagon above the tailgate, which can feel like running from 120 km/h.

With the M3 Touring likely to attract buyers who would take advantage of the camper’s versatility over its fellow sedan, we were eager to hear what Frank had to say about suspension compliance in both Comfort and Sport modes.

supplied attributed to him: carbert

“There’s no doubt you’ll feel the bump because we want to have that connection to the road, but it won’t disturb the car and there’s no body movement when you hit the bump,” he said.

“Instead, it feels like a very solid car. It’s also due to the steering tone we set for the M3 Touring. It’s very solid in the middle and straight, but not too heavy – very similar to a GT3 in that respect,” he explained.

“Our overall goal was to develop the M3 Touring as a fun car but not too uptight, but also use two-wheel drive if you want some driving exaggeration, or you can drive it very precisely and quickly.”

The M3 Touring’s extra weight, especially in the rear, means it gets about 10 percent higher spring rate than the regular M3, with the front end being roughly the same for both variants.

supplied attributed to him: carbert

M3 Touring buyers will be able to stick with the standard steel brakes or the optional carbon-ceramic stoppers, although Frank points out that the regular brakes are more than important, even after the laps at the Nordschleife.

“Under heavy braking with steel brakes, the car is really stable and the pedal feel remains the same throughout the lap. There is no real difference between the M3 Touring and the regular M3.

With the exception of some final software tuning, the M3 Touring is all set for full series production with the final signature in about three weeks.

He was understandably very silent when asked about a more specialized version of the M3 Touring, but noted that there was no real point to the lightweight CS model given its obvious lifestyle skew.

supplied attributed to him: carbert

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