Short Drive Review: Turner Motorsport 2012 F30 BMW 335i Sport

 

A little while ago, Turner Motorsport invited me up to take a closer look at their 2012 F30 BMW 335i Sport with their special upgrades. This is that story.

We’ve tested two versions of BMW’s F30 335i here at RawAutos; the Sport and Luxury trim levels. Both times we’ve enjoyed the car, even singing its praises. However, we have realized a lack in overall driver feel from behind the wheel. Now we know this has a lot to do with the new electric steering system in the new 3-Series. However, Turner Motorsport haven’t tried to get rid of that dead steering. Instead they’ve worked around it to give you a bit more control with the brakes, motor, and handling of the car.

And I’ve gotta say, it’s worked. Holy hell has it worked. What they’ve done is take a good package and made it really quite great. I wouldn’t say M3 great, but the Turner Motorsport F30 335i Sport could definitely stick with an M3 in a straight line and around the bends. Did I mention that it’s a manual transmission 335i?

Now I explained in an earlier post about visiting TMS, and I had information of the modifications done to Turner’s 335i. But as a refresher, their car had a baseline of 276.88 rear-wheel horsepower, and 308.50 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels, also. To add some serious power, they added a Hartge “Engine Conversion” making an extra 56 hp and 59 lb-ft of torque.

As for the handling, Turner Motorsport added Forgeline CF3C Forged Alloy Wheels wrapped in Continental DW 225/40/20s up front, and 275/30/20s in the rear. All of this is helped by the H&R Sport Springs that lower the front 1.3 inches, and .6 inches in the rear. Everything is aided by increased stopping power of BMW’s Performance big brake kit, as well (by Brembo).

As for how it looks: Apart from some black kidney grills, black mirrors, the wheels, and the Turner Motorsport sticker on the windshield, you’d never be the wiser that this were a nearly 400 hp sport sedan.

After spending the night in a nearby town, I was excited to drive a BMW 335i that’s been massaged and tuned by one of the best non-factory race teams in Grand-Am series racing today. Upon pulling up to Turner’s HQ I saw a beautiful lineup of old and new BMWs alike. Two of them, the ActiveE 1 and 335i, were cars I’d be soon piloting.

Jay and I had a quick chat about our opinions of the F30 3-Series versus the E90. We both agreed that there was tons more feel to be had in the wheel, and even a bit more spirit in the chassis, too. I did mention that I personally hadn’t yet driven the Sport trim, but only the Luxury trim. I sat in the driver’s seat and buckled up while turning the car on. I was greeted by the typical N55 inline-6 low rev sound I’ve come to enjoy. I started to drive away, and before I even pulled out of the parking lot Jay had pushed me into Sport+ and had me ready to go. I’ve gotten used to my M3 and having it set to start off in my personal settings each time I turn the car on, I’d like for the 3-Series to do so, too.

The initial dynamics are immediately different, though. Without a doubt you can feel the H&R Sport Springs as well as the wider rear tires helping to keep you planted and not pitching too much in from corner to corner. The only initial issue I had was, well, some understeering onto a highway on-ramp. I attribute this to poorly steer-in as well as cold tires. The good news is, I had no problems keeping it on the black stuff. Shew… Around the back roads you could tell the TMS project 335i is well sprung and amazingly composed in harder corners. It certainly helps the chassis and suspension of the already quite good F30.

Driving the Turner Motorsport 335i on the highway, even in Sport+ mode, the car is still comfortable and very responsive, especially with the Hargte Engine Conversion tune giving you a little more gusto once you downshift and goose it. Although I should mention that Hartge claim a power bump of 56 hp and 59 lb-ft of torque, but I didn’t feel that much extra power. At the most, probably 20 hp or so, but not 56. Turner have assured me that they’re working with Hartge to fix this and make sure that it’s actually producing the advertised power and torque. There was also another new product that the TMS 335i has that’s insanely cool, and that’s the P3 Cars gauge that sits in the top half of your driver’s side air vent. The gauge is a semi-simple plug and play feature that allows you to see:

  • Live Performance data
  • 0-60 Performance Timer
  • OBD2 diagnostics
  • Advanced Customer Programming
  • 3x Analog Inputs
  • Peak Recall & Run Record
  • Universal Aux Inputs for Sensors
  • On the Fly Configuration Menu
  • Boost/Vacuum
  • Coolant Temp
  • Intake Air Temp
  • Exhaust Gas Temp
  • Throttle Plate
  • Speed
  • RPM with Shift-Light
  • Battery Voltage

That really is a lot of options and abilities. Using each one is very simple with just the push of two small buttons above the display. There’s also a helpful little text scroll that shows you what you’ve switched to. Being able to view these things on the fly is really great for a tuner, or someone who’s spent thousands of dollars on products that are supposed to make their cars much better.

While driving the Turner Motorsport F30 335i I continued to find the suspension and power very good with all of the add-ons that Turner have added. Without a doubt TMS have created a car that’s a good bit quicker in a straight line, but more than that, far superior in the corners. All it needs is a limited-slip differential, and you’d probably have the best all-round F30 335i Sport around town. Unfortunately I had a bit of a boo-boo. It wasn’t my fault, and you’ll realize that upon hearing the story.

Turning back onto the main road that Turner are headquartered I was going into the turn about 5-7 mph faster than I probably should have, and the car handled it really well, without any slip of a wheel. But as soon as I made the turn, there was a delivery truck coming down the road taking up the whole road. I immediately slammed on the brakes, trying to turn off onto the side of right side of the road, but I couldn’t go anywhere because there was a curb on that side; so I scratched the front passenger wheel a little bit. Luckily Turner were planning on blacking out the wheels anyway, and it wasn’t really that much damage. Jay and I both just waited for the impending doom of having a truck slam right into us at 30-40 mph. Luckily he missed us… narrowly, by less than a foot. It’s a good thing the seats are black and don’t show stains easily. I could have gone for some better bite and stopping power in the BMW Performance Brembo brakes. In fact, they’re good, but for the money Turner are actually going to switch them out for a more powerful set of brakes.

Turner Motorsport have raced in more than 250 professional races since the first time they started racing BMWs in 1998. In 2011 Turner Motorsport won the coveted BMW Sport Trophy and are one of the most successful private BMW racing outfits in the world. Walking into Turner’s facility is literally like walking into a candy factory for BMW and racing enthusiasts. It’s like Willy Turner & the BMW factory… I tried to steal a few things for my M3, but Will told me he’d run me over with his Grand-Am 18-wheeler (he didn’t really say that, don’t worry).

I appreciate the opportunity to drive the Turner Motorsport F30 335i Sport, and I hope they’ll have me up in the future to have some more fun. I promise, I won’t mess up anymore wheels, Will! Actually, it must be said, I didn’t get to meet with Will while I was there, because he was a bit busy prepping for the weekend to come. But Jay talked to him after I left and he said he was more happy with the fact that we weren’t hurt, and that the wheel wasn’t much of an issue by comparison. Talking to Will Turner over the phone a few times, as well as on the radio, he’s one hell of a guy, and that’s why I’d always trust buying products from his company, and you should, too.

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I'm a car, music, and Howard Stern aficionado. I also love planes, trains, anything to do with science and engineering, as well as politics. I'm working on my screenplays, TV shows, and a book or two. Stay tuned to when I'm really famous and even more awesome.

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