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Friday 25th November 2005


BMW LAUNCHES HIGH-REVVING 320SI

Homologation special follows touring car win

BMW 320si with WTC winner
BMW 320si with WTC winner
BMW has announced details of a new limited-edition version of BMW’s 2006 World Touring Car -- the BMW 320si saloon, a homologation special, on the back of BMW driver Andy Priaulx's 2005 championship.

Designed to comply with FIA homologation regulations, only 500 BMW 320si’s are destined for the UK out of 2,600 cars worldwide. All feature a hand-built four-cylinder engine made at BMW’s engine plant at Hams Hall, near Coventry. The high revving 2.0-litre unit delivers 173bhp at 7,000rpm before red-lining at 7,300rpm and 147lb-ft of torque at 4,250rpm.

As you'd expect, performance is OK but not stellar: the BMW accelerates from zero to 62mph in 8.1 seconds with a top speed of 140mph. It delivers 31.7mpg on the combined cycle and conforms to the EU4 emissions regulations.

This compares quite favourably with the £25,180, 320i M Sport, which offers a nine-second dash from zero to 62mph from a 150bhp/148lb-ft engine, and a top speed of 138mph -- but you'll probably have to rev the nuts off the 320si to get the best out of it..

The limited production run of the BMW 320si starts in March 2006 and ends in September 2006, with first customer deliveries expected in April 2006. Retail pricing for the car is still to be confirmed, but expected to be approximately £24,975.

Motorsport engineering

BMW touts the amount of motorsport technology that's gone into the 320si. Compared with the standard BMW 320i, the engine has been significantly modified with larger induction and exhaust valves to increase airflow. The cylinder bore has increased by 1mm to 85mm while the stroke has been reduced by 2mm to 88mm.

The compression ratio of the engine has also been increased from 10.5:1 to 11.0:1, helping to boost power by 23hp over the 320i. Additionally, instead of running with grey-cast-iron cylinder liners, the pistons run in special aluminium-alloy liners in the cylinder block. Engineers have also decided to remove BMW’s patented Valvetronic induction system, reverting to a conventional throttle due to the higher engine speeds demanded by a racing engine.

In a direct link with BMW’s motorsport programmes, the cylinder head is cast at BMW’s Landshut foundry alongside Formula One engine blocks. Additionally, to save approximately 10Kg and lower the car’s centre of gravity, the cylinder head cover is made of carbon fibre.

Chassis

The specification of the 320si is based on the 3 Series M Sport model that includes front and rear aerodynamic body styling, sports seats, sports suspension and aluminium interior trim. Additionally, the BMW 320si features Touring Car-style alloy wheels with BMW Motorsport motif. The front wheels are 8J x 18 fitted with 225/40 R18 tyres while at the rear the 8.5J x 18 wheels are fitted with 255/35 R18 tyres. Finally, mirror caps finished in satin chrome differentiate the car from a standard 3 Series.

World Champion Andy Priaulx

Priaulx was crowned FIA World Touring Car Champion at the final round of the championship in Macau, China on 20 November, the first British world champion since Damon Hill in 1996.

Priaulx won the title with a total of 101 points, with Dirk Muller of BMW Team Deutschland in second with 86 points and Fabrizio Giovanardi driving an Alfa Romeo in third place with 81 points. Priaulx scooped top honours courtesy of consistent driving throughout the season, making it to the podium 11 times. BMW won the manufacturers’ title with a total of 273 points, 37 points more than second placed Alfa Romeo.

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