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As a self-proclaimed M car fanboy, having the opportunity to just be around an E46 M3 CSL is a privilege, let alone getting to drive, live with and really get under the skin of what could be BMW's greatest M car. 

Written by: Jake Smithard

20 years on from its launch in 2003, the CSL is growing in popularity as more and more of us are looking back to older generations after every clinical new car launch. The CSL is far from clinical, one of many reasons why I love it so much!

The CSL concluded the popular E46 platform and showed what the M division boffins could really do when they were let loose with the sole aim of making the ultimate driving machine. Making the car fun to drive was one of the main targets with agility and turn-in being a top priority, plus exploiting the E46’s already brilliant chassis. The goal was achieved by taking a more traditional approach to performance and shedding 110kg off the standard car rather than adding silly power — a philosophy that resonates with me.

You would be forgiven for not spotting a CSL straight away given subtle styling differences over a standard M3, but they equate to more than the sum of their parts. It has a wider track, lower ride height, flared arches, classy ducktail, exposed carbon fibre roof, lightweight BBS wheels and a single air intake replacing the fog lights. All that packaged together with the boxy compact styling results in a car that, for me, just 'sits right’.

From the moment you open the door and climb over the bolster to nestle yourself into the bucket seat, you quickly realise the seating position and interior are closer to that of a race car than a road car. Slide the seat forward and back with the old-school lever, make a few steering column tweaks and getting comfortable isn’t an issue. You look around to find a mixture of Alcantara and carbon fibre, all blended together in a focused yet pleasant cabin. The only bit of colour in the sea of grey and black comes from the orange and red blocks in the upper echelons of the rev counter which seamlessly move the rev limiter as the car comes up to temperature.

On the road, the M division’s diet pays off and exceeds all expectation with a real feeling of precision, allowing you to place the car exactly where you’d like on the road with fantastic front end turn-in. The emotive steering feel is always one of my biggest take aways when stepping out of the car after a blast and coupling that with such an amazingly balanced chassis results in a wining combination. 

A big talking point with CSL is the SMG single-clutch automated gearbox as there was no manual option from factory. The best way I can describe it is brilliant but equally rubbish! The car wants to be driven hard to get the most from it and when you hit the downshift right it feels as crisp as anything else. Treat the gearbox like a traditional manual and it will transform the experience, using the gear selector in the centre of the car over the paddles massively helps by tricking your mind. It is a car you have to work with and learn to drive smooth rather than just jumping in and pulling the paddles with your foot to the floor. This is especially true when cold or at low speeds, it can be rather grumpy when not in its natural environment but this only feeds the character and personality of the car and ultimately, I feel it suits the car and I wouldn’t change it.

We can’t talk about the CSL without talking about that in-line 6 cylinder engine mated with the carbon air box, creating that unholy induction noise so iconic to the CSL. You find yourself craving for more noise and your hunt for any moment where you can put your foot flat, it doesn’t matter the gear, the induction bark takes over the experience and attacks your senses, making the whole car fizz and your spine tingle. 

Overall, the CSL is a car that makes you smile and reminds you why you are a petrolhead — for the purity of driving and having a true connection with a car. It isn’t perfect, but the things that get under your skin the most usually aren’t.

Jake Smithard - Membership & UK Tours

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Our Dolomites tour has, over the past couple of years, become our flagship tour which has everything a petrolhead, whether alone, with a friend or with a partner, could ever wish for in a driving tour.

We enjoy a leisurely start based at a beautiful sun-drenched 16th-century villa set in its own vineyard, giving the most amazing holiday vibes before the driving begins. The first day's drive is shorter to ease you in, but also to give you the chance to explore Lake Garda or simply to top up your tan by the pool before the following days of exceptional driving start.

From then on, it's certainly more driver-focused as we take on a whole list of bucket-list roads with spectacular backdrops. The roads of the Dolomites are some of the best in the world, with scenery even more impressive than the French Alps, and roads which are winding, wide and silky smooth.

When the driving is over each day, hotels throughout the tour are five-star venues which we have built close relationships with over the years. Another benefit for those bringing the less understanding passengers is that we only move hotels twice during the five nights and six days of the tour, meaning they have the choice of whether to join us for the drives or stay and enjoy a more relaxing day at the spa.

The premium feel of this tour is further amplified by the cars brought along by SCD members, which is always exciting for us on the SCD team! 2023’s tour welcomed some gems including a handful of 458 Speciales — in our opinion one of the best supercars cars ever made which only continues to become more collectable. Those Speciales winding along with other track-focused cars like the Lamborghini Huracan STO, Porsche RS and McLaren LT models is not only a wonderful sight to us, but as we spend 95% of our time driving in Italy, it’s a sight which is appreciated and greeted with real enthusiasm by the locals, which is truly refreshing!

We round off the tour with an intimate ending, where despite being at a large hotel in the mountains above Innsbruck, we have our own little private hut in the woods for dinner on our final night — the perfect ending to a perfect week away.
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The options for exhaust tuning and aesthetic upgrades on the market are vast, and sometimes it can be difficult to understand what you need to do to achieve a certain result with your performance or supercar. Scuderia Car Parts are industry leaders in working closely with their clients to create a tailored package so that their car is ready for summer!

When considering an aftermarket exhaust for your supercar, there are a few important factors to keep in mind. Firstly, choose a reputable brand known for producing high-quality exhaust systems specifically designed for your car model. For a number of years, we’ve supplied only the market-leading brands in their own right such as Novitec, Capristo and Brabus.

Secondly, consider the sound you desire. Whether it's a deep growl or a more aggressive tone, the deciding factor for this decision will ultimately come down to how you use the car. By all means, if you plan to drive the car on Saturday blasts then a dialled-up version can be perfect, however, for those wishing to take their car on tours or for more daily use, a more liveable package can be designed.

Additionally, all of our exhaust systems offer performance benefits such as improved exhaust flow and reduced weight. Finally, all our tuning products can be fitted by our approved workshop which has worked with us for years to provide a quality finish and customer care to all projects.

Creating a Bespoke Package
How do we normally approach an exhaust modification you may ask? Well, our aim is to give the client a full picture of their options so they can decide what matches their needs best. The value of our time around the cars and the feedback we’ve received means we can work together to design the best package to reach your goal.

Here is our breakdown of one of our most popular projects — the Ferrari 812 exhaust system upgrade.

The headline is this: all 2020-onwards 812 Superfast and GTS are now fitted with the Otto Particulate Filter (OPF) — a very restrictive filter which is fitted after the cats (as one unit). You may notice that your car seems exceptionally quiet, and this is what is causing it.

The exhaust path used to follow this pattern:
Manifolds – 800-cell Cats – Middle Silencer – Rear Silencers.

But the exhaust now follows this pattern:
Manifolds – 800-cell Cats / OPF – Middle Silencer – Rear Silencers.

As you can see there, is a hell of a lot in the way of the exhaust, previously all we needed to do was install the following:
Manifolds – 800-cell Cats – X-Pipe – Novitec Rear Silencers.

This was more than sufficient to elicit a really amazing exhaust note, but the OPF unit means we need to be slightly more aggressive in our modification of the car, and as such we must now install the following parts:
Manifolds – 100-cell Cats / OPF delete – X-Pipe – Novitec Rear Silencers.

You may be aware that when you install sport cats, you will often trigger a warning light, and this is the case with these cats. Typically, this would necessitate a remap of the car, however Novitec has developed a small unit that plugs into the OBD port in the driver’s footwell which searches for errors relating to the cats and clears the error down. This means no check engine light and no need to remap!

Similarly, when you remove the OPF, you will also get a check engine warning light, however this unit will also search for errors relating to the OPF and clears them down too.

Which parts and why?
Back Box & Remote Control Unit
First, we replace your original rear silencers with Novitec Sport Rear Silencers and install a remote-control unit. The 812 sounds good, but to be honest, you have to drive it quite aggressively to get a truly enjoyable exhaust note experience. When the valves in the original exhaust do finally open, you get a nice but fairly muted, muffled sound — it’s not bad but it could be fantastic. Another problem is the way the sound jumps from valves closed to open, which can give the impression to passersby that you’re driving obnoxiously.

The Novitec exhaust changes all of this — it’s a transformation. Straight away the car will be much fuller, deeper and louder at low rpm and will settle to a much fuller large-V12 idle. The note will stay deep at low revs and then, from about 3,000rpm, give way to a much higher-pitched exhaust note which gets linearly louder, according to your throttle input. This point is quite important because the way stock exhaust works means that the valves open all of a sudden, jumping from silent to louder in a moment. This doesn't happen with the Novitec; the exhaust note now builds in intensity, gradually and cleanly.

All the while as the revs rise, the exhaust tone is changing so that when you reach beyond 5,00rpm, the car makes a really amazing high-pitched motorsport scream, instead of the stock system’s more flat bark. The difference is huge. When you come off the throttle, the valves do not close (unlike the stock system) which means you get a linear winding-down of volume and sound and fantastic pops and crackles on the over-run — it almost sounds better off the throttle than on!

Remember that all this sound is combined with the remote control that is included, which allows you to open the valves up in the Novitec system at any point in the rev range and more importantly close them again at low rpm. This means you can bring the car back to a more discreet volume for long-distance driving and early starts at any time, so the car sounds perfect for every occasion, and you don’t have to sacrifice any of the day-to-day usability with a louder exhaust — you get all the excitement but can always switch it off to silent.

The X-pipe which is supplied as part of this package in addition to the above items removes the stock central muffler and serves to blend exhaust gas pulses from opposite banks of that massive V12. This boosts volume only slightly over Stage 1, but more importantly hones the exhaust tone beautifully, lifting the pitch of the sound even further, and adding a ‘ripping’ edge to it. I love this sound; it’s intense, visceral and in all likelihood the best you’ll ever hear a road car sound short of an F50 with one of our exhausts!

Sport Cats or Decats
As I mentioned above, the cat unit for 2020-onwards 812s is now fitted with the OPF, making the exhaust exceptionally quiet. While it is an expensive modification, we see it as pretty much essential. We’ve had a few customers opt to do cat-back only and every single one of them has subsequently complained that the exhaust is still too quiet. They all ended up purchasing the sport cats or decats as well and ended up paying double the labour bill to have them installed!

There is, of course, a concern about volume, however the car only really becomes offensively loud when you remove the cats entirely. Make no mistake, it’s going to be a fairly loud car with the sport cats installed (it is an 800hp Ferrari with a 6.5L V12 after all!), but it’s by no means obnoxious.

It’s important to note that with the sport cats installed, the volume is perfectly balanced and with the valves closed on the rear silencers, the car is virtually silent, allowing you to cruise on the motorway without drone and pass through sleepy villages and car parks without attracting undue attention.

The beauty of this is that no modification we’re making leaves any trace that it was ever there. No cutting, welding, soldering or ECU trickery — it’s all plug-and-play. This means you can revert the car back to standard when you’re done, and the car will be as it was when it left the factory.

It really is the best of both worlds. We think if you’re going to do it, do it once and do it properly!

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There are two ways you can go about buying things in life: with your head, or with your heart. Whilst supercars can have investment potential, for the most part, you buy them with your heart. You buy the one that makes your jaw drop when you look at it, that makes your spine tingle when you push it to the redline, and you don’t worry about rattling your spine to pieces or how much luggage you can fit in.

Our very own founder and Managing Director Adam has an especially large bias towards buying with his heart over his head which lands him at the butt of plenty of banter from the rest of us. We’ve had some great cars in the fleet, but plenty have been and gone and some aren’t perhaps the ideal tools for doing thousands of miles across Europe.

Now though, even Adam says it’s time to buy with our heads, and so the search is underway for cars that ‘do the job’ for tours. He compares it to buying a good set of knives for your kitchen, in that it’s all about finding the right tool for the job that can be relied on time after time. You wouldn’t buy a fancy limited-edition samurai sword to cut your steak, would you?

The cars we’re leading have changed a lot since the early days when we kept the pace perfectly well in a Golf R Estate. With the latest turbo and hybrid cars packing at the very least 700bhp and unflappable dynamics, the contenders have to pack pretty serious punch without being too much of a handful. They need to be reliable, not overly sensitive to mileage, and even relatively comfortable and practical. That doesn’t mean we’re going all boring though; there will still be a pinch of heart included in the decision-making, because it’s important to enjoy your job, right?!

Links are already flying back in forth in WhatsApp groups with ideas of what may tick the boxes and I’m sure you’re already having thoughts of what you would go for in our position, so do get involved with your suggestions and stay tuned for more features on the search for a tours workhorse.

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Cartier introduces new options for their iconic pilot's watch range with refreshing splashes of colour. Our friends from Berry’s Jewellers tell us all there is to know.

Expanding on the renowned square pilot's watch line, Cartier presents two new additions to the series, each paying homage to 100 years of history. The first model, originally designed by Louis Cartier for French aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904, revolutionised the industry with its integrated lugs, sloping Roman numerals and instantly recognisable square-shaped case. Fortunately for Cartier watch enthusiasts, the design of the Santos pilot watch has remained largely unchanged, preserving its distinctive inner railroad tracks and decorative case screws as defining features.

When it comes to design specifications, the new blue and green smoky dials retain much of the timeless charm of the Cartier Santos. While the gradient blue option exudes elegance and pairs well with smart, professional, or casual attire, the smoky green degrade dial brings a fresh perspective to the collection. The dial's surface features a sunray brushed finish, with darkening edges akin to the blue model. The watch showcases a captivating interplay of green nuances, polished rhodium-finished appliques and sword-shaped hands, resulting in a final product befitting the luxury watch sector. The design of the new Cartier de Santos watches strikes a perfect balance between classic elegance and modern precision, ensuring uncompromised accuracy day and night.

Expected to become an instant sensation, the new Cartier Santos watches, particularly the green model, boast numerous appealing features. Sharing specifications with the gradient blue version, the green sunray brushed display showcases a three-handed no-date layout, with the Cartier lettering positioned below the 12 o'clock marker and protected by anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass. The glass seamlessly merges with the squared-shaped stainless steel case, available in a medium size with a diameter of 35.1mm or a large size with a diameter of 39.8mm.

To enhance your experience, the watch can be paired with a matching green alligator leather strap or a stainless-steel bracelet thanks to the Santos' ingenious QuickSwitch interchangeability system and Smartlink sizing technology. The distinct rounded edges of the square case are unique to the Cartier de Santos range, while a water-resistance rating of 100 metres and a heptagonal steel crown, adorned with a blue synthetic faceted spinel complete the impeccable design. Inside the new smoky blue and green Cartier de Santos watches, the Calibre 8247 movement delivers exceptional performance. Concealed behind a steel case back, the movement operates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers a power reserve of 40 hours.

These latest Cartier Santos watches are now available at Berry's Jewellers in both medium and large sizes and in both of the captivating blue and green sunray brushed dials.

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