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Video: Monster BMW E36 is the best-sounding four-cylinder

20th June 2023
Ethan Jupp

I have a confession to make. Speaking for myself, I am a bit of a displacement and cylinder elitist, especially in this horrifying reality of 2.0-litre Mercedes-AMG C63s. Give me a big gargling V8 over a V6 or four-cylinder any day. Likewise, I believe a big, howling naturally-aspirated V12 the closest thing we have to proof of a higher power. But, and it’s a big but, I do love a proper, screaming, finely-tuned four-cylinder running on the ragged edge. The Japanese, French and Germans have majored with such mills and, in today’s video, we’re celebrating the latter.

This is the BMW E36 STW, running a 2.0-litre four-cylinder good for 285PS (210kW), revving to over 9,000rpm. I’ll qualify, too, that such four-cylinders as the one in this BMW are elevated immeasurably in coolness when they feature individual throttle bodies, that put out a magnificent throb as the car approaches and climbs through the revs.

Resplendent in its Bastos livery, we see this BMW on the ragged edge around Zolder and Hockenheim, with driver Eric Qvick at the wheel. He plays the mega Beemer like the musical instrument that it is. So really, we can only ask that you sit with us and listen along, as my prejudices about lower cylinder counts are eroded away just a little bit. If only the new Merc sounded like this…  

Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: Onboard for some hillclimb thrills

  • BMW

  • Video

  • Elevenses

  • E36

  • M3

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