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      04-05-2013, 08:37 AM   #1
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BMW M135i v Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution v Subaru WRX STI v Volkswagen Golf R

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Sports Car Comparison: BMW M135i v Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution v Subaru WRX STI v Volkswagen Golf R

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http://www.caradvice.com.au/223823/s...swagen-golf-r/

There’s an obvious winner here – it costs the most, but the BMW M135i is an absolute peach to punt hard, is properly quick, and sounds fantastic, yet also feels properly premium in its design and refinement.

It also used the least fuel on test, slurping 13.9L/100km compared with 14L/100km for the Evo, 15L/100km for the STI, and a surprising and disappointing 15.2L/100km for the hard-working yet slower Golf R.


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A comparison test between the BMW M135i, Volkswagen Golf R, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and Subaru WRX STI might seem like a war between Germany and Japan, but it isn’t. Nor is it a showdown between rear- and all-wheel drive. Simply, the aim is to find the best sports car available for under $70,000, the near-perfect price-point for those looking beyond mere hot hatches but who can’t stretch to six-figure performance.

But the catalyst for the comparison is, of course, the arrival of the BMW M135i, which on paper boasts more power and torque than its established rivals for about the same money.

Last year, the 1 Series M coupe brought M3 performance for $50K less, sneaking under $100K by a few gorillas. Now, the M135i, despite getting a single turbo six-cylinder compared with the 1M’s twin-turbo version, boasts the same torque (450Nm) as the limited-run coupe, and near-identical performance for $68,400 – a further $40K saving. Actually, the supplied eight-speed automatic version costs $72,400, but slashes the 0-100km/h time by 0.2 seconds compared with the six-speed manual, ducking under five seconds by a tenth. At least the BMW badge isn’t an optional extra.

The Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution have owned this territory for near enough to two decades. Ever since Colin McRae and Tommi Makkinen took the wheel of their rally-spec namesakes in the 1990s, and the Playstation brought couch surfers a taste of their glory, the two have been cemented as icons of the late twentieth century.

It’s unlikely that buyers of those race-cars-for-the-road will cross shop the STI and Evo with the Volkswagen Golf R, but it is all-wheel drive and does match them for performance. It also undercuts them on price. The now-five-door-only VW starts at $49,990 for the six-speed manual, and $52,490 for the six-speed DSG tested here.

Our tested Lancer Evo base manual costs $56,990, but like-for-like with the auto Golf R, the Mitsubishi dual-clutch gearbox adds a hefty $5K.

Meanwhile the as-tested Subaru WRX STI Spec-R retails at $63,000 – $5K more than the base STI which lacks leather, sunroof and sat-nav. A five-speed auto is a no-cost option in the Subie, but it lacks the crisp shifts of the VW and Mitsu dual-clutchers and reduces torque by a considerable 57Nm.

With the STI, the choice is manual or something else.

It could be said that the BMW M135i is being attacked from both fronts – by the hard-hitting, boosty rally weapons, and the definitive sporting all-rounder. Conversely, the Munich newcomer seems to have the on-paper goods to crush the three of them.

The BMW 3.0-litre single-turbocharged six-cylinder is one of the world’s finest engines. It nestles under the bonnet of the 335i and 535i sedans, and the 135i coupe, and does its job brilliantly in all of them.

The engine replaced the twin-turbo version previously in those models, yet dropping a turbo saw no decrese in power and torque thanks to the company using a twin-scroll turbo design – essentially, there’s two boosters working inside the one turbocharger, instead of two separate turbos.

In the case of the M135i outputs jump even higher, from 225kW/400Nm in its mainstream range siblings to 235kW at 5800rpm, and 450Nm kept flat over an astonishing 1250-5000rpm plateau.

So when the M135i is ambling along in traffic, auto slurring to a tall ratio, it’s producing maximum torque; and when the throttle meets the carpet, and the horizon is being reeled in, the M135i is also producing all the torque it can almost right up to the point of handing peak power the baton 800rpm past where the torque tapers off.

Yet the turbo six also revs to 7200rpm with a snarly, creamy soundtrack that whets your appetite and wets your… well, other bits.


The BMW six-cylinder couldn’t be more of a contrast to the Subaru four – one is couth, linear, raunchy; the other laggy, whooshy, a firecracker. Not difficult to guess which is which. The WRX STI 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder produces 221kW and 407Nm, competitive numbers to push the 1520kg hatch to 100km/h in the low 5s.

Despite being slightly slower than the M135i in a straight line, thanks partially to a 14kW/43Nm deficit and a 75kg weight penalty, the WRX STI actually punches harder out of bends and through the mid range.

Where the BMW cleverly conceals two smaller turbo wheels in one housing, the Subie just gets one great big windmill to thrust exhaust gases back into the engine. Like any big wheel it takes time to overcome inertia and spin, so while it does move more wind than the BMW, it needs more time to do it.

The Subie makes peak torque at a flat 4000rpm, but feels like it’s making about half that number at 1250rpm – the point at which the BMW is providing its full-fat figure – while the turbo gets its spin class on. There’s then a big jump until peak power is developed at 6000rpm.

Consequently, the Subaru is dozy around town, sounds grainy at low revs, yet runs out of puff at high revs (it calls quits at 6500rpm). It has a manhole-cover-sized rev-range with which to work in, say 3000-6000rpm, where it is a truly crushing performer.

The smaller-capacity 2.0-litre turbo Mitsubishi engine is similar in character, but it’s much better.

There’s less turbo lag in the suburbs, an angry, industrial soundtrack when pressed, instead of the Subaru’s windstorm-with-bits-flying-around, and it revs to 7600rpm – like any good performance engine, the cut-out starts with a ‘seven’ not a ‘six’.

Unfortunately, the five-speed manual highlights the engine’s still-present turbo lag as much as the optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic hides it.

In some corners, the Evolution is hard in the red in second gear, yet can’t give its best if shifted to third. Revving hard in fifth gear on the freeway is also less than ideal.

The Mitsubishi all-aluminium single-turbo four-cylinder makes its peak 217kW at 6500rpm – 500rpm higher than the Subie – and its maximum 366Nm at 3500rpm.

Although less torquey than the WRX STI, and despite weighing 1565kg making the Evo the heaviest car here, the Mitsubishi doesn’t feel slower.

But remember what we said about the only WRX STI to choose is the manual? For the Lancer Evolution X, it’s the opposite – choose the superb, aggressive-shifting dual-clutch gearbox to create a near-perfect performance weapon.

The Volkswagen may share its four-cylinder, one-turbo, 2.0-litre capacity, all-wheel-drive basics with the Evo, but it’s definitely on the side of the M135i when it comes to linearity and refinement. With 188kW and 330Nm, it’s the least well-endowed car here, but then it weighs 1476kg, less than the other two all-wheel-drivers.

Producing its maximum torque between 2400-5200rpm is only less than outstanding alongside the flat-bed delivery of the Bavarian, but it helps make the Golf R barely a second slower to 100km/h, needing around six seconds to crack that benchmark – the Japanese terrors wedge somewhere between the M135i and Golf R times.

Being two pots short of a six pack, the VW can’t match the BMW’s lusty soundtrack. But, like the Golf GTI, the turbo four is zingy, cultured, and rev-hungry, matching the M135i’s 7000rpm redline.

All of which is fine with the $38,000 GTI, but for another $15K, a raunchier sound is expected. At the very least, a crackly-farty exhaust should be included, to stop drivers being reminded of the wonderful-sounding 3.2-litre V6 in its Golf R32 predecessor.

All-wheel-drive systems are not one and the same, as the VW’s 4MOTION system proves. The company claims the centre differential no longer works on ‘slip’ angles – that is, sending drive only to the rear wheels when a lack of front-wheel traction is detected – like the old R32, but rather has an electrically-operated valve and pump to control oil pressure and allow the computer to control how much drive is sent to the rear wheels.

Apparently, up to 100 per cent of torque can be fed to the back boots.

It doesn’t feel that way. The Golf R has stacks of grip from its 18-inch Bridgestone Potenza tyres, but push past the limits of adhesion and it proves a blunt tool. There’s understeer in abundance, and no amount of aggressive-steering inputs to invoke a playful attitude then get the rear to throttle steer will fix that.

It never feels like the Golf R is doing anything with its rear end – even a Golf GTI, with less grip at both ends, moves around more with its driver.

That latter virtue is something shared masterfully between the M135i and STI. Each cars’ suspension tune isn’t as firm as the Volkswagen’s, which on a gnarly bit of road proves to be nicely damped and the most comfortable car here; save for some jarring over really big hits.

The Subaru, conversely, isn’t very good. Its shock absorbers are soft in the extreme, and on any surfaces bumpier than an ice rink the WRX STI starts to bounce its occupants, throw its front end off line, send shivers through the steering wheel, and even shudder its bonnet, such is its lack of control over bumps.

On smooth roads, the STI has plenty of body roll, but it allows the driver to feel what the mechanical centre, front and rear differentials are doing. The Subaru is the weapon it’s renowned for being when connecting (again, smooth) corners together.

Unlike in the Golf R, the Subaru gets a proper all-wheel-drive system with a button in the centre console that allows the driver to portion most of its torque to the rear wheels. Yet it still has enough ‘pull’ from the front axle to allow astonishingly early and hard throttle applications out of bends, maximising traction and allowing devastating pace.

BMW suspension tunes have been a bit hit and miss lately – the standard 3 Series and 5 Series are woefully uncomposed, yet when optioned with adaptive dampers, they are brilliant. The M135i gets non-adaptive dampers but with an M Sport tune, and it proves a fine option. If you were to use a set of scales and put ‘comfort’ on one side, and ‘sports’ on the other, the M135i suspension would balance near even.

Like the STI, there’s a fair bit of roll, and undulations on country roads get the M135i moving around a bit. Yet, unlike the Subie, the BMW remains composed, comfortable, and faithful on all roads. Admittedly, with only rear-wheel drive, it can’t match the pace of the ‘proper’ all-wheel-drive duo – it scrabbles for corner-exit traction in the same place the Japanese cars release their rubber band sling.

Crucially, however, the M135i is a big white ball of fun to steer hard (and almost as much fun as an eight ball…) There’s no corruption to its quick and largely tactile steering – save for a bit of lost motion when holding a bit of lock – and the front end is sabre-tooth pointy, despite the long inline six up front. The

M135i also feels the lightest on its feet, and despite prodigious grip from the 18-inch Bridgestone Potenza tyres, it is the most tail-happy (and therefore driver-happy) of the quartet. Throttle steer, courtesy of the wham-bam-thank-you-mam nature of the eight-speed auto and crisp power delivery, is there for the taking.

The Lancer Evolution X is a hard bastard, but arguably the outright best handling car here. Its suspension rates are such that it doesn’t so much go over bumps as steam roll them. Where country roads can mess with a car’s composure, the Evo messes with them.

Occupants can hear the suspension thumping and thudding over imperfections, and the dashboard shivers over really big hits. But the Evo will not be moved off its line, and will not require a change of pace over any surface.

The Mitsu has seemingly unending grip at the front, and the sort of agility reserved for a very special breed of very expensive sports cars. Its steering is so blindingly quick, even telepathic, a complete contrast to the slow, numb, and rattle-prone steering in the Subaru. It even makes the mid-weighted, sorta-quick system in the VW look well off pace. Cheeks will be torn off faces before the Evo X starts to understeer.

Yet its all-wheel-drive system allows as much play as the STI’s, with lots of torque going to the rear wheels thanks to an active centre differential with yaw control – basically, lots of sensors that tell drive where to go.

Bracing between the front and rear strut towers helps strengthen what is essentially a regular Lancer sedan body, but it also means the split-fold rear seat is ditched and boot space reduced dramatically. Other vices carried over from the regular Lancer include the awful road noise and terrible cabin plastics. But not the compliant urban ride, clearly.

Despite having superior driveability to the STI around town, the Evo’s ride is borderline harsh at low speeds.

The STI’s relative softness works better around town, where it skims over small imperfections – but it still crashes over larger ones. Like the Mitsu, the Subie’s interior is below average, with hard and grainy plastics and a low-res touchscreen, although it is quieter across all surfaces.

It’s when the driving gloves are off, and workday commuting resumes, that both the Golf R and M135i put the clearest lead over their Japanese competitors. Each of the Germans rides with firm, comfortable discipline. Both are ergonomic, well equipped and quiet.

Ultimately, the Volkswagen’s interior is too Golf-generic, where the BMW scores with a wide 10.2 inch colour display and nicer steering wheel, if not superior cabin plastics. The rear-drive M135i also has tighter rear accommodation.

There’s an obvious winner here – it costs the most, but the BMW M135i is an absolute peach to punt hard, is properly quick, and sounds fantastic, yet also feels properly premium in its design and refinement.


It also used the least fuel on test, slurping 13.9L/100km compared with 14L/100km for the Evo, 15L/100km for the STI, and a surprising and disappointing 15.2L/100km for the hard-working yet slower Golf R.

The Volkswagen Golf R seems quite the bargain, given that it’s $20K cheaper than its fellow German. But it actually appears overpriced when it’s only marginally quicker and barely any more fun than a regular Golf GTI.

It’s just relegated to the lowest step of the podium by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Unlike the Subaru WRX STI, which takes the bottom placing thanks to its flawed steering and inadequate body control, the Mitsu is the best car here to drive, with brilliant steering and composure on all surfaces.

It’s enough – also unlike the Subie – to compensate for its rubbish interior, refinement and urban ride. But, as Molly would say, do yourself a favour and get the infinitely superior dual-clutch gearbox.

Or just buy the best car here. For the first time in, well, ever, that $70,000 car is a posh, performance rear-drive German…
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      04-05-2013, 09:14 AM   #2
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      04-05-2013, 11:02 AM   #3
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For those of us on this forum, this is no surprise. I think our real challenger will be A45, especially in Australia where Meecedes has priced it lower than M135i (when optioned up equally).
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      04-05-2013, 11:11 AM   #4
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Well, that was a gret read. I believe that it's a bit late though for such a test. The competitors of this beast of a bmw is: the new s3/mk7 golf r (once out) and that's about it. The a 45 is definitely not in the m135i range cause its a full blown amg car, yet the 135 is not an m car, not even close. I feel once the 1m or 2m will be out it will crouch the competition (here I'm talking 0-100 times) all in all as cabin wise, comfort: m135i wins. Durability would go for the golf. I feel the s3 is a déjà-vu boring design/model. So the real test is a45amg vs f20 1m (once produced). One of the good things though for the m135i is that it does get compared to a full blown amg model even though its not a full blown "m" mode
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      04-05-2013, 11:27 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by raffoul232 View Post
Well, that was a gret read. I believe that it's a bit late though for such a test. The competitors of this beast of a bmw is: the new s3/mk7 golf r (once out) and that's about it. The a 45 is definitely not in the m135i range cause its a full blown amg car, yet the 135 is not an m car, not even close. I feel once the 1m or 2m will be out it will crouch the competition (here I'm talking 0-100 times) all in all as cabin wise, comfort: m135i wins. Durability would go for the golf. I feel the s3 is a déjà-vu boring design/model. So the real test is a45amg vs f20 1m (once produced). One of the good things though for the m135i is that it does get compared to a full blown amg model even though its not a full blown "m" mode
Yeah but as I mentioned above, for those in Australia, A45 is very relevant as the pricing of M135i and A45 is pretty much line ball. In fact the A45 is cheaper!
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      04-06-2013, 04:43 AM   #6
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Agree with WAY... especially in the Australian market, if they are priced in the same bucket, then they will be a direct comparison...

On all honesty, if the Merc came in a manual and its a rear wheel drive, that would be my pick (out of the M135i and A45)
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      04-06-2013, 04:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WAY View Post
Yeah but as I mentioned above, for those in Australia, A45 is very relevant as the pricing of M135i and A45 is pretty much line ball. In fact the A45 is cheaper!
Imagine if Merc did a Black Ed A45 what a blast!
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      04-06-2013, 05:00 AM   #8
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If anything the A45 will only outmatch the M135i from 0-60 given the extra horses and 4WD standard. I think when it comes to real world situations the BMW will come out on top, things like mid range overtaking power, driving experience on the road etc.

AMG are going to be pretty miffed if BMW's midway monster outgun's their hot hatch. I think the biggest mistake AMG are making is not putting a 3.0l engine in it. It'll be like Scoobies and Evo's, good for off the line performance but flat after 60. Lets face it how often does anyone have a green light drag race these days
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      04-06-2013, 05:05 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WAY View Post
For those of us on this forum, this is no surprise. I think our real challenger will be A45, especially in Australia where Meecedes has priced it lower than M135i (when optioned up equally).
Are you sure ? I thought they only released the base price of AU$74,900.

No options list for the A45 AMG is out yet, if so please do share.
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      04-06-2013, 05:13 AM   #10
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What is the torque output for the Merc A45 vs M135i?
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      04-06-2013, 04:39 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMW_M135i View Post
Are you sure ? I thought they only released the base price of AU$74,900.

No options list for the A45 AMG is out yet, if so please do share.
"Thanks to AUSmotive’s exclusive tip-off it’s old news for our readers, of course, but Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific has today confirmed local pricing of the highly anticipated A45 AMG.

As expected $74,900 is the magic number (plus on-road costs).

For now Mercedes has confirmed the following specifications with more detail to follow ahead of the car’s local launch in September:

19” wheels
AMG Performance Exhaust
COMAND Online
Intelligent Light System
Panoramic Roof
AMG Performance Seats with Electric Memory Function
DISTRONIC PLUS
Blind Spot & Lane Keep Assist driver assistance systems
Our previous article suggests you can expect to add night pack/privacy glass, metallic paint, satellite navigation with Bluetooth connectivity, digital radio and
Harmon Kardon Hi Fi to the above list of standard features."

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Originally Posted by Active View Post
What is the torque output for the Merc A45 vs M135i?
"The Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG contains the most powerful series production four-cylinder engine in the world, delivering a maximum output of 265kW and up to 450Nm of torque."

Source: Ausmotive.com


The 135 is 235kw and 450Nm.
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      04-06-2013, 07:48 PM   #12
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The 135 is 235kw and 450Nm.
Peformance BMW's figures on the rolling road was 254kw with the promise of more to come. I suspect that the MB is already having its neck wrung, so there won't be too many more gains there.

We know who wins the prize for the best looking car, but the all-important driver satisfaction contest is still to be had.
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      04-07-2013, 12:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Peformance BMW's figures on the rolling road was 254kw with the promise of more to come.
Matty, please expand mate?

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Originally Posted by mdt View Post
I suspect that the MB is already having its neck wrung, so there won't be too many more gains there. We know who wins the prize for the best looking car, but the all-important driver satisfaction contest is still to be had.
I agree that 2.0litres with 265kws is huge, not to mention the Nms, so maybe your right re any overhead for tunas. In saying that it is pretty "traditional" for AMG to roll out a Black, who knows, maybe they will drop a 6.2 in
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      04-07-2013, 12:45 AM   #14
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The A45 is already running a heap of boost, too, IIRC...maybe 2 Bar???. Lag may be an issue for the stock car, and certainly will be for any tuna
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      04-07-2013, 02:11 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Alpine* View Post
Matty, please expand mate?



I agree that 2.0litres with 265kws is huge, not to mention the Nms, so maybe your right re any overhead for tunas. In saying that it is pretty "traditional" for AMG to roll out a Black, who knows, maybe they will drop a 6.2 in

The good news for us is that BMW's M engineering will have to release the proposed 2lt M1 with similar specs and that means an M chip and tune kits though your BMW dealer to take a 125i to 200+kw and if they do what the BMW M theorist want they will release a M2 with the 6 pot from the135i and charge it to over 350kw
Hopefully this will now happen sooner that later.
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      04-07-2013, 02:27 AM   #16
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The good news for us is that BMW's M engineering will have to release the proposed 2lt M1 with similar specs and that means an M chip and tune kits though your BMW dealer to take a 125i to 200+kw and if they do what the BMW M theorist want they will release a M2 with the 6 pot from the135i and charge it to over 350kw
Hopefully this will now happen sooner that later.
With the latest rumour for the M3 being at 330kw, I would bet the M2 won't breach 300.
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      04-07-2013, 03:29 AM   #17
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Matty, please expand mate?
They dyno-tested that silver M135i that was pictured around here recently with a dyno sheet attached. It made 341hp, apparently, which is 254.283656kw.
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      04-07-2013, 04:00 AM   #18
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They dyno-tested that silver M135i that was pictured around here recently with a dyno sheet attached. It made 341hp, apparently, which is 254.283656kw.
Hmmm dyno sheets, we all know what they mean... More argument and debate. Dynos are great for before and after results on the same car on the same day with the same operator, nothing else. They serve to highlight gains against a specific changes.
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      04-07-2013, 05:34 AM   #19
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I think the biggest mistake AMG are making is not putting a 3.0l engine in it.
I don't think having a lumpy old 3.0 V6 hanging over the front of the wheels should have done them any favours apart from in a drag race.
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      04-07-2013, 06:15 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Alpine* View Post
Hmmm dyno sheets, we all know what they mean... More argument and debate. Dynos are great for before and after results on the same car on the same day with the same operator, nothing else. They serve to highlight gains against a specific changes.
If this refers to the Evolve dyno test, that figure was FWHP before they've done any tuning. Doesn't make sense to inflate the results at that point. Must have been a nice cold day!
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      04-07-2013, 06:21 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elstoof View Post
I don't think having a lumpy old 3.0 V6 hanging over the front of the wheels should have done them any favours apart from in a drag race.
Agree.

The A45 AMG is transversed engined the same as the FWD A class so all the engine, gearbox, transfer box and front diff are all in the engine bay with all the weight on the front wheels.
There's not enough room for a straight 6 and I doubt there's enough room for a 3.0V6 and it would further hurt the weight distribution.


The M135i produces maximum torque from 1300rpm, the AMG45 requires 2250rpm to get on full boost and produce maximum torque indicating the power will not be as easily accessible and lag maybe more of an issue.

Cheers
Lee
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      04-07-2013, 07:38 AM   #22
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Even Audi didn't want to put the VAG Vr6 into the RS3/TTRS, preferring to build a one-off flat 5 for the job. 6 cylinders and transverse engines don't mix well.
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