As the term "concept car" reveals, the German tuner MK-Motorsport has equipped the agile Compact with all conceivable extras and presented it at the Bern tuning fair. The test showed that the 318 ti is capable of inspiring with turbopower.

MK-Motorsport from Ötigheim is dedicated to the refinement of BMW models and offers customized tuning for body, interior and engines. The individualization program is immense. It ranges from MK wheels, aluminium pedals and leather interiors to spoilers and side skirts. The black and yellow Kevlar trims, which can be ordered for the interior and the wheels, are particularly exuberant. And even the BMW kidney is not taboo for this.

Central items in the tuning offer of the German company represented in Switzerland by Ulrich Motorsport Wichtrach BE are however the chassis including brakes, the exhaust system and the engines, which are given an impressive power and torque boost with exhaust turbochargers or compressors.

TURBOKIT Such a showpiece is a test case. Ulrich Motorsport's acceptance came by return of mail. The candidate made a solid impression and confirmed this during the test. The compact, MK component carrier from the BMW stable comes with agile handling. It also cuts a good figure with the 140 hp of the four-cylinder engine, but MK pushes the engine with a turbo kit (turbocharger, cast manifold, intercooler, engine management) to a full 210 hp and a torque of 300 Nm at 4100 rpm (instead of 180 Nm). However, the Turbokit alone costs around CHF 10,000.

The engine rotates immediately. When idling, the sound hardly differs from the standard model, but as soon as the Compact picks up speed, the music starts to play. Spontaneous throttle response with sufficient boost pressure and impetuous forward thrust are guaranteed whenever the driver so desires via the accelerator pedal. Like an oiled flash, the needle of the rev counter rises until the drive is stopped at 7300 rpm. And because the exactly shiftable standard transmission has a relatively short ratio, the shifting processes follow one after the other. In everyday operation, however, it is not only sheer performance that counts, but also the essential pulling power for low-shift operation. The MK-Compact offers the same.

HOUR OF TRUTH There is a large difference between the 9.9 s and 209 km/h maximum speed of the standard version and the 6.6 s and 230 km/h promised by the manufacturer. Because it was necessary to shift into third gear at 96 km/h, doubts arose with regard to the 6.6 s even before the measurements. The test object required 7.2 s from 0 to 100 km/h, i.e. six tenths more. That's a right discrepancy, but 7.2 seconds is still respectable for a 1.9 four-cylinder engine. The top speed of 230 km/h could be reached relatively easily. The promised turbopower is therefore undoubtedly available. Their use does not even result in an exorbitant express surcharge, as the average consumption of 9.8 L/100 km determined shows. More than 10 L/100 km flowed through the injectors only in city traffic and on the limit-free German motorway.

TOP DRIVING GEAR The lowered chassis with special springs and dampers is tailored to the existing power. Their identification is tight, but by no means as hard as a board. This results in a rich road surface and perfect straight-line stability right up to the top speed range. Only longitudinal grooves in the roadway lead to a reduction in this respect. In curves, the front and rear suspension strut braces also ensure precise wheel guidance and torsional rigidity. Visually, the 18-inch light-alloy wheels with 225/40 "soles" give way a lot, but unfortunately have longitudinal grooves in the road surface. The rollers also fill the wheel arches in such a way that rubber and sheet metal touch during bold cornering. This is not a good prerequisite for "heaters".

With activated stability and traction control, the 318i Compact proves to be easy to control despite turbopower. If this driving aid is switched off, however, the agile Compact mutates with the available power into a veritable sports device. With precise steering and the accelerator pedal, the pilot quickly leaves even tight bends behind. However, it must always be on the ball, because the driven rear wheels ensure pronounced power oversteer, and abrupt throttle response has the same effect. Lightning-fast counter-steering is required if driving pleasure is to be maintained.

So much power requires powerful brakes. MK therefore installs four ventilated disc brakes (grooved, diameter 28.6 cm), which decelerate highly efficiently when required and remain stable even in hard use.

INDIVIDUAL ACCEPTANCE As usual, MK-Tuning is based on production vehicles and offers a wide range of components. Even sports seats with hand-sewn leather upholstery are not missing. Ulrich Motorsport attaches great importance to comprehensive advice and helps with the compilation of the tuning kits based on the Swiss price list. The wallet and the taste of the customer ultimately determine the scope of the tuning measures. By the way, the 318 ti Compact tested by the AR had a TÜV approval, but in Switzerland an individual acceptance is unavoidable.

Published in Auto Revue Switzerland 4/2001, Source: Sport Auto and MK-Motorsport.


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