It is an old and painful memory for many V8 enthusiasts. The early 90's in Australia when motor racing was dominated by a car so superior it was dubbed 'Godzilla'. Mark Skaife and Jim Richards were Godzilla's masters and they were all conquering...before the rules were changed. The mighty GTR took the Bathurst crown twice and showed everyone that a 'little' 2.6-litre six with a couple of hairdryers could literally run rings around it's competition.
This Easter weekend a twin-turbo six cylinder is again King of the Mountain. The Bathurst 12-hour Showroom Enduro has been won by the E92 BMW 335i. It should also be noted that there were another 4 BMW's in the top ten, including another 335i and three 130i's. You can see the results here. When one brand dominates the top 10 positions like this it is time to sit up and take notice.
So, how is it that a 3.0-litre six cylinder rear wheel drive can take on the AWD Evo's and WRX's and finish in front? Aside from BMW's obviously impressive engineering and reliability the main reason for its winning performance is a couple of turbochargers.
The 3.0-litre force fed six produces 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque. It goes from 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds and finishes the standing 400 metres in 13.9 seconds. These times are not a whole lot slower than the vaunted M3. The 335Ci has lapped the Nurburgring in 8:26 only 4 seconds slower than the M3. The 335i is capable of all of this and will return fuel consumption figures in everyday driving of 9.5 L/100 according to BMW.
The 3.0-litre is all aluminium in construction and is based on the 3.0-litre six found in the 330i. It includes direct injection and a pair of low inertia turbochargers.
Road tests have shown that the 335i has prodigious torque available low in the rev range with all of it's 400Nm being available from 1300 rpm! Turbo-charging technology has changed in recent time and turbo lag is almost a thing of the past.
Most tests of new model BMW's includes a winge about the harsh low speed ride thanks to the run flat tyres and it is no exception with the 335i. If you want a BMW without run-flats you need to buy the Z4 M Coupe or Roadster. It seems that BMW's Motorsport division have seen the light and realised that run-flat technology is not quite up to speed yet.
List price for the 335Ci is $108,900 for the manual or you can opt for the automatic only four door 335i for $104,500.
After this weekend's 12 hour race it is now obvious that BMW's product is immensely capable and most importantly reliable in the most extreme conditions. It also goes to show that a well sorted rear wheel drive chassis is still king on the tarmac race track.
I wonder if potential purchasers will be dropping into their BMW dealer on Tuesday? There used to be a time when winning on Sunday meant selling on Monday.