IT FEELS LIKE a lifetime ago since I last sat behind the wheel of a modified car. But this isn’t Max Power, and nor am I behind the wheel of a luridly bright VW Golf with six subwoofers and a warp drive in its boot. Nope, the pristine, ice white BMW 335i I’m nestled inside looks as though it’s just rolled out of the Bavarian firm’s manufacturing plant.
But there are notable differences. For starters, this 335i has Texas USA plates and I’m sitting on the wrong side of the car. Only those bespoke 19-inch forged alloys offer a hint at the systematic uprating process Dinan Engineering has put in place.
Under the bonnet, the twin-turbo 2979cc heart remains mechanically intact, though Dinan’s ECU software has thrown off the vehicle’s electronic limiters and given this coupe a hearty claimed 304kW. Torque has seen a similarly stratospheric climb to 580Nm. On the handling side, Koni adjustable coil-over shocks replace the standard dampers, firming up the ride and lowering the ride height to improve the centre of gravity. Finally, Dinan has slotted in six-piston brake callipers and Goodridge brake lines to ensure consistent, fade-free braking under stress.
The upgrades enable us to achieve (at the coast) a 0-100kph sprint time of just 5.1 seconds, which trumps the donor car’s 5.6 seconds and catapults it considerably closer to the more athletic M3 sibling’s 4.9.
On the winding Contermanskloof pass just ten minutes away from Killarney the Dinan 335i certainly feels as adept as the numbers suggest. I have to constantly remind myself that the speed readout is displaying mph, not kph, 60% faster being a scary prospect on a tightening bend.
Despite the leap in power, and supported purely by the suspension modifications, the car feels very much like the 335i we had in our fleet for a year, though is significantly more rapid. No bad thing. However, the choppier ride might not be something you would be prepared to live with. Of course you don’t need to, as a range of M Sport suspension items are available from dealers. However, the Dinan software upgrade is more specific and will be available through Kyalami-based tuning outfit ADF Motorsport which has affiliated with the US firm to deliver these exact thrills.