Every vehicle on the planet has some sort of compromise built in, regardless if it’s a personal street car or a Formula 1 machine. We’re all familiar with the compromises we must make, with some being easier to live with than others.
Want more power? You need to account for shorter component life, reliability or economy. More downforce? Drag. You know how this works… Of course, what might be unacceptable to one is perfectly palatable to another.
When you break this down, it’s really all about finding balance and making the decisions that allow you to have maximum driving enjoyment, more of the time.
It’s something that BMW have long been capable of achieving with cars like the M3 – a performance machine that can easily be lived with every day and comes with very few drawbacks.
It’s no wonder then that the M3, and even ‘lesser’ BMW models are so popular with enthusiasts, or why they have become all-time motoring icons. Having performance levels on par with supercars of yesteryear – without the associated headaches – what’s not to love?
It wasn’t really all that long ago that people were aghast at the idea of putting air suspension in an M3 (or any other M car for that matter.) Things have changed a lot over the last few years, and there’s certainly a lot more understanding around the product and technology, along with an appreciation of what it’s really capable of.
It’s come a long way from the bag and cup days of old, with bag-over-strut assemblies and sophisticated digital management systems.
Over the years, we’ve encountered a variety of BMW models on Air Lift Performance air suspension, and I know that I’ve personally never met anyone with any regrets. Most of the time, the swap is for convenience to allow the owner to ride low but still comfortably clear any obstacles.
That there’s an improvement in performance over the stock suspension setup is the icing on the proverbial cake.
There’s nothing more tragic, in my opinion, than a static low M car dragging its sills on the ground, or grinding the body and suspension componentry over traffic-calming devices, road imperfections or access ramps. I know that some endure this as some sort of badge of honour, but I wince at that the thought of it.
I should know, I was that guy and I still have the shattered Hartge Japan carbon fibre splitter to prove it.
When it gets to a stage where you have to decide your route choice based on ride height, or worse again are completely put off driving the car altogether, that’s one compromise too far. Any modification that allows you to drive your car more often must be considered a good one.
I’m resisting the urge to wax lyrical about how air and M is a surprisingly natural combination, and how they both minimise compromise while allowing an improved overall driving experience. Instead, I’m heading to the local classifieds to look at cars I can’t afford while still checking there’s a suitable Air Lift Performance kit available…
Photography by Mark Riccioni
Additional Photography by Stefan Kotze, Trevor Yale Ryan, Naveed Yousufzai, Dino Dalle Carbonare & Bryn Musslewhite
This story was brought to you in association with Air Lift Performance, an official Speedhunters Supplier