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GUEST BLOG: Nemo’s 130i

For the last couple of years I’ve been getting around in a relatively modified and track orientated turbocharged MX5.  That was actually how I met the man behind Sehr Gute! and Projekt 944 circa 2011.  Having recently made the change to a Euro, Blake had asked me to do a little write up on my newly acquired BMW E87 130i and I was more than happy to oblige.

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The whole concept of a RWD hot hatch was enough to make me want one and I couldn’t be happier since taking ownership of the car.  The E87 is comfortable and luxurious enough to have no complaints what so ever as a daily (massive change from the MX5) while still having enough poke to have fun on spirited weekend drives from the 3L inline 6 cylinder motor.

With uni coming to a close and having some spare time, I decided to give the car a shake down at a Speed off the Streets (SOTS) day at Wakefield Park (WP) and see what it was capable of before I take it to compete in the BMW Club Supersprints next month.

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I didn’t have much to do preparation wise with the car being serviced a couple of weeks prior to my purchase.  BMW doesn’t have set regular service intervals, rather just notifications from sensors that adapt to changes in driving conditions/styles.  Interesting to note I started the day with 27,000 kms till the next service and finished with 8,000 kms…world’s longest track day right?  Anyway, woke up bright and early Wednesday morning and off I went.

From experience SOTS days have always been a mixed bag in terms of number of cars, traffic etc.  By the time everyone had finished arriving the total count of street cars was five.  Perfect, lots of track time and minimal traffic with clear blue skies.

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Amongst the crowd I had actually managed to run into some old friends from the MX5 days, Mark who had made the switch to a Renault 172 Clio and his brother Wade in his angry cammed NA6 MX5.  Walking further down the pits was another Japanese classic, a very clean and what proved to be a very quick Subaru GC8 WRX.

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Radicals are always fun to watch and even better to hear screaming down the straight.  But what actually caught my eye was the race prepped BMW E36 M3 next to it.  The list of goodies goes on and on from the carbon fibre panels to the sequential gear box, this was one serious piece of machinery.

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It was time to head out.  It had been nearly a year since I had last ventured out to WP in the MX5 and needless to say was very rusty.  Not only did I have to learn all the lines again but had to get used to a completely stock car down to the run flat Bridgestones.

It took a couple of sessions of me thinking I am a better driver than I actually am with a few humbling off track excursions before I finally figured what the car was and wasn’t capable of.  I started stringing together some smooth consistent laps clocking times in the 1:14’s which I was relatively happy with.

All would come undone though around midday.  I started getting one of BMW’s many warning lights shining brightly on the dash.  I pulled straight into the pits and started rummaging through the owner’s manual fearing the worst.  Turned out to be just the brake pad sensor and sure enough, the rears were down to their last millimetre or so while the fronts still had 7-8mm left.

With the car coincidentally running low on fuel at this point I made the easy decision to call it quits and end the day early.  The N52 motor sure is thirsty with the car computer showing an average consumption of 33L/100km!  Definitely know to bring down my jerry can next time.  The car performed faultlessly otherwise and I had a load of fun. However I did have some gripes with it in completely stock form as a track going car.

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Firstly the Bridgestone RE050A run flat tyres left A LOT to be desired.  I struggled for grip all day with the car just wanting to understeer.  Maybe this was just me though having developed the tendency to literally throw the MX5 into corners and having it respond.  The open diff also made it nearly impossible to get power down through the fish hook, with the inside wheel continuously spinning while I go nowhere.  I don’t know how an LSD was never even a factory option on these cars.

I found the stock brakes worked relatively well, but faded rather quick.  Would come back into the pits feeling like I was stepping on a sponge every time.  Not too sure what pads or brake fluid is in the car at the moment but definitely needs some attention.  With some R-Spec tyres along with the usual suspension and handling mods like sway bars etc, the car should easily be lapping in the 1:11’s and maybe even 1:10’s at the hands of a capable driver.

Did manage to get a passenger ride with the owner of the E36 M3 before I left and what a way to end the day.  Couldn’t help but smile hearing the shear noise of the motor and sequential gearbox on wide open throttle before bracing myself from flying through the windscreen as the giant Stoptech callipers slowed the car down.  Been told the owner runs consistent 1:07’s and managed consistently low 1:08’s with the added weight of me in the car.  Don’t mind my head flailing about in the video with the serious g’s he was pulling.

A year was definitely too long between track visits.

Thanks to Nemo for contributing this guest blog to Sehr Gute!

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2 Comments

  1. The car looks perfect, and its is a car that is luxurious with zero complaints. My sister owns the same car and its absolutely brilliant in performance.

  2. Apparently the ‘no LSD option’ was because BMW didn’t want the baby 130 to be too close in performance and handling prowess to the fully fledged M cars.

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