Top Gear Test: BMW M4 GTS vs Lotus 3-Eleven

BMW M4, News | June 5th, 2016 by 1
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BMW has designed its latest hardcore M car, the BMW M4 GTS, to be something of a track killer along the lines of a Porsche …

BMW has designed its latest hardcore M car, the BMW M4 GTS, to be something of a track killer along the lines of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS. With its water-injection, which bumps the standard M4 engine to 493 hp, manually-adjustable suspension and carbon fiber aero and a titanium exhaust that sounds like a nitroglycerin-powered chainsaw, the M4 GTS is designed to be a hardcore track monster. From what we’ve seen and heard, BMW has largely succeeded in this endeavor. However, how good of a track car is the M4 GTS when compared to a proper, stripped out, no-nonsense track car? Top Gear decided to find out.

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In this latest test, TG put the BMW M4 GTS up against the brand-new Lotus 3-Eleven, a car designed entirely by the British brand’s motorsport division, not the same people who make the Lotus road cars. So while the M4 GTS is a road car turned into a track car, the Lotus 3-Eleven was born and bred to be a proper track killer. It houses a Toyota-sourced 3.5 liter V6, mounted with a supercharger, that develops 460 hp and runs that power through an Xtrac sequential-manual gearbox. While that’s less power than the M4 GTS, it only weighs 890 kg (1,962 lbs) which is simply ridiculous. It also has fantastic adjustable Öhlins shocks and AP racing brakes. So this 3-Eleven is a purpose-built track weapon.

Both cars are blisteringly fast, but the Lotus is faster thanks to its far superior power/weight. Although, outright speed isn’t really the primary focus of either car. Both cars are designed to attack corners with ridiculous velocity and be extremely fun to drive and both cars seem to do exactly that, just in different ways.

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The Lotus 3-Eleven is a purely visceral experience that engages all of the senses. The steering is full of life and feedback, the suspension is typically Lotus perfect and the lack of a roof means that you hear, feel and smell everything that the car is doing from its lone racing seat. So it’s primal and emotional and spectacular. However, its 64 percent rear weight bias means that it actually tends to push a bit in corners, as the front wheels fight for traction, and the brakes are far too touchy. So it almost becomes a wild beast that you have to learn to tame. Kind of like a British Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane from WWII.

The BMW M4 GTS, on the other hand, is more of a modern F22 Raptor, with its high-tech weaponry. It uses a water-injection system, two turbochargers, electric power steering and an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, so it’s the more high-tech of the two. This makes the M4 GTS incredibly precise with a far sharper front end that makes it more agile through corners, despite its weight disadvantage. Whereas the Lotus needs to be tamed to be quick, the M4 GTS will help you be quick. You can rely on its pin-point precision steering and clever differential to ensure that you won’t end up in a tire wall. But even with all the clever systems, it never feels artificial and is always engaging and fun to drive. So long as you keep the traction control off.

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Both cars are tremendous track cars and both cars approach the concept from very different directions. It’s hard to pick a winner when the both excel at different things. In fairness, if you’re the kinda fellow that can afford either as a weekend toy, you can probably afford both. And if you can afford both, buy both. That’s about as close of a verdict as you’re going to get on these two vastly different but incredibly fantastic track cars.

[Source: Top Gear]

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