Part 1 - fitting a BMW M3 with Öhlins suspension
The decision to upgrade your car’s suspension is not one to be taken lightly. The benefits are clear in your mind – improved grip and handling for the road and occasional trackday fun – but so too are the pitfalls, such as the potential to upset day- to-day ride comfort. Likewise, you need to be sure the quality and durability of the new suspension is more than a match for the old, and confident the technicians who carry out the installation and setup work are the best around.
If this scenario sounds familiar you’ll identify with Mark Reeves. evo reader, keen driver, occasional trackday goer and the owner of a rather fine E92 BMW M3, Reeves has agreed to take part in a unique test in which we upgrade his car’s standard suspension with Öhlins Road & Track coilovers. Once fitted, Mark will head to north Wales, where he’ll drive his car on the famous evo Triangle road-test route to experience the difference Öhlins’ Road & Track makes on one of the most demanding drivers’ roads in the country. Using Öhlins’ unique one-click compression and rebound adjustment to arrive at his ideal balance of ride and handling, he’ll then head to the nearby Anglesey Circuit to explore the M3’s limits and try some more extreme suspension settings, as recommended by Öhlins’ experts.
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You can read about his road and track experiences over the coming months, but before he can do that he needs to get that suspension swapped. Step forward award- winning authorised Öhlins distributor Mick Gardner Racing. While they remove the M3’s standard suspension, replace it with new Öhlins Road & Track kit and complete a full geometry check, we take the opportunity to get to know Mark, chatting about his car history, his driving experience and his hopes for how his M3 will feel on its new Öhlins suspension.
‘I was into motocross from an early age, so I knew all about Öhlins,’ he says. ‘They really have a great reputation. I stopped the bikes after I had a big accident, but that got me into cars. I’ve had the M3 just under a year now. I had a Clio Renaultsport 200 before that, but I’d been hankering for a V8 since I was a kid. It’s a bit of a dream to have one, especiallyone as good as the BMW.
‘I love the M3 and think it’s an amazing all-rounder, but like anything, you always want some things to be better. My car has the EDC suspension, though to be honest I only ever use the Comfort or Sport modes – the Normal option doesn’t really offer enough of a difference compared to Comfort. What I’m after is slightly sharper turn-in and for the body control to be a bit tighter, but without making it too stiff. I think this would give me more confidence. It’s my first rear-drive car, and while I’ve learned a lot and feel much more comfortable with it than I did at the beginning, a bit more control and sense of connection can only help, can’t it?
‘I had worried swapping the suspension would mean I’d have to put up with a few warning lights, but the Öhlins kit overrides the EDC error messages. It’s too good a car to have warning lights flashing, so that’s a nice touch. I really can’t wait to head to north Wales and try the roads up there, and of course to drive on track at Anglesey. I’m sure there’s a lot to learn about finding the best settings for the suspension, but that’s all part of the fun.’