For customers still dreaming of one day owning a BMW M3 CRT

The BMW E90 M3 CRT was produced in such low numbers (only 67) that finding one on the road these days is a miracle. The M3 CRT was also historic in a lot of ways because it was the last M model that used a naturally aspirated engine before BMW transitioned to forced induction engines. So with history and exclusivity on its side, it’s difficult to get your hands on an actual M3 CRT. German tuner Alpha-N Performance doesn’t exactly have one itself, but it could have the next best thing: a program for the BMW M4 that adopts a lot of the characteristics of the M3 CRT, right down to the aerodynamic and power improvements that give the sports coupe 520 horsepower.

Granted, some people may point at the recently unveiled BMW M4 CS as a descendant of the M3 CRT, making it a perfectly capable alternative to its supposed predecessor. While there may be some thin truths to that, the M4 CS, as dear ‘ol Pops points out, isn’t so much a capable, track-focused M4 as it is an overpriced M4 that tries to convince you of its exclusivity simply because it’s carrying the “CS” name. Alpha-N Performance isn’t trying to hide anything with its M4 CRT program though. The use of the “CRT” badge may be off-putting to actual owners of the limited edition M3, but give credit to the German tuner for embracing its program and giving the coupe the aftermarket modifications it feels is worthy of the CRT badge.

Continue after the jump to read more about the BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance

  • 2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    520
  • Torque @ RPM:
    51
  • 0-60 time:
    3.9 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    186 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance Exterior High Resolution
- image 714883

Beyond its outright historical significance and outright exclusivity, the BMW M3 CRT became so sought-after because it represented the last vestige of the M3 that drew its power without the technical sophistication of a forced-induction mill. That and the coupe also looked the part of a limited edition ride, right down to the presence of the reworked front splitter, lighter front hood, and the use of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) on the entire body of the car.

2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance Exterior High Resolution
- image 714886
2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance Exterior High Resolution
- image 714885

Alpha-N Performance didn’t exactly go that same specific route with its M4 CRT build, but it did use carbon fiber parts for the aerodynamic kit, specifically the front splitter and rear spoiler. The latter, in particular, has some CRT likeness to it as its addition helps add 117 pounds of downforce to the coupe at speeds reaching 124 miles per hour. Rounding out the tuner’s exterior package for the M4 CRT is a new set of 20-inch gold-finished HRE wheels wrapped in Michelin PSS tires.

Care for an alternative body kit?

Alpha-N Performance’s objective in giving the M4 a CRT treatment may have handcuffed it in being more aggressive with its aerodynamic body kit. If customers are looking for a more dynamic looking M4 with hanging bits and pieces, Carbon fiber Dynamics’ treatment of the coupe is an interesting alternative. The exterior upgrades included in that program came with an MTC Design hood, a new front bumper and rear wing from 3DDesign, side skirts from Varis, and a 56°NORD carbon roof box that the tuner says were tested at speeds of up to 186 mph. The tuner also BMW M’s red, blue, and purple livery running throughout the body of the coupe. Another option to consider is fellow German tuner Lightweight. For its program for the M4, Lightweight relied on its own, albeit similar mix of aerodynamic components, particularly a new front spoiler blade and a carbon rear wing.

2016 BMW M4 by CarbonFiber Dynamics High Resolution Exterior
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2014 BMW M4 By Lightweight High Resolution Exterior
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note: side-by-side photo of the BMW M4 by CarbonFiber Dynamics and the BMW M4 by Lightweight.

Interior

2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance Interior High Resolution
- image 714889

Some people may have forgotten this, but for all of BMW’s intent in turning the M3 CRT into a track-focused sports car, it still kept most of the M3’s interior intact instead of stripping them down in the name of weight savings. In fact, Bimmer even gave the M3 CRT front and individual rear seats dressed in Sakhir Orange and Black bi-color covers, an Alcantara-covered M steering wheel and, exclusive door sill strips, door panels, and trim strips made from an aluminum grain structure. Even the just-released BMW M4 CS received plenty of exclusive features, not the least of which include lightweight M sports seats wrapped in leather and Alcantara, as well as compacted natural fibers on the door panels and Alcantara inserts on the dashboard, center console, and steering wheel.

By comparison, Alpha-N Performance’s interior upgrade program for the M4 CRT is largely more subdued with the only notable change being the inclusion of new Recaro Pole Position sports seats that take the place of the standard seats. That’s the extent of Alpha-N Performance’s work on the M4’s interior, which is admittedly a little disappointing. Ironically though, the fact that Alpha-N Performance even went with Recaro sports seats is a significant change in it of itself considering that most of its peers in the aftermarket scene rarely include interior upgrades as part of their programs.

BMW Individual is the way to go

The notable attention paid to the M4’s interior by tuners can at least be explained by the growing popularity of personalization divisions. The German automaker’s BMW Individual personalization division counts itself as one of the best in the business and there’s good reason for that. It offers a wide menu of options, accessories, and packages that customers can choose from. One particularly cool example is the BMW M4 Pyrite Brown Edition, which the company unveiled back in 2015 as an Abu Dhabi exclusive. A quick example of the scope of BMW Individual’s capabilities was on full display in the M4 Pyrite Brown Edition. That special edition M4 received optional Sonoma Beige Merino fine-grain leather for the seats and the door panels, and the Individual Sycamore Red-Brown fine wood trim. Black leather surfaces were also notable features of the special edition M4, as was the contrast stitching spread throughout the cabin.

2015 BMW M4 Coupe Pyrite Brown Edition Interior
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note: interior photo of the BMW M4 Pyrite Brown Edition.

Drivetrain

2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance Exterior High Resolution
- image 714884

Here’s another interesting aspect about Alpha-N Performance’s BMW M4 CRT program. As much importance as it placed in living up to the E90 M3 CRT’s legacy, it may have shortchanged the coupe into getting more power than it otherwise did. To be clear, the tuner’s upgrades still amounts to a healthy increase of close to 100 horsepower for a total of 520. That’s compared to the standard model’s 425-horsepower output. Torque numbers also increased to 501 pound-feet, 95 pound-feet more than the standard M4’s 406 pound-feet of torque. Alpha-N Performance achieved that thanks to a Stage 1 engine software upgrade that the tuner actually presented all the way back in 2014. Remember this one?

2014 BMW M4 Stage 1 by Alpha-N Performance Drivetrain
- image 562716

note: photo of the 2014 BMW M1 Stage 1 by Alpha-N Performance

Only Alpha-N Performance knows why it didn’t opt for its more powerful Stage 2 or Stage 3 power kits, but whatever its reasons are, the decision to go with the Stage 1 kit leaves the M4 CRT a little lacking.

Plenty of other options to choose from

Fortunately, the BMW M4 is a pretty popular car in the aftermarket tuning world so there are plenty of other tuners to go to in case the Alpha-N’s M4 CRT doesn’t cut the mustard. G-Power, for example, has presented multiple iterations of its tuning kit for the M4, most of which used the tuner’s Bi-Tronik 2 V3 tuning module as its backbone. Not only was this module able to provide bespoke upgrades for the M4’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-six engine, those same upgrades amount to 600 horsepower and 610 pound-feet of torque. Another tuner, B&B Automobiltechnik, also has a multi-stage tuning kit on the table that comes with modifications to the turbochargers to go with its own ECU upgrades. With these upgrades, the tuner was able to get as much as 580 horsepower and 533 pound-feet of torque out of the M4.

Then there’s Carbon Fiber Dynamics, which created one of the most impressive tuning programs for the M4. At the center of that kit was a pair of TTE 6XX turbochargers running 2.3 bar of boost pressure that worked in concert with a methanol injection kit and Burger Motorsport JB4 tuning module to help the six-cylinder engine reach 700 horsepower and 634 pound-feet of torque. It’s unclear if Alpha-N Performance could’ve topped those numbers with its more powerful stage kits, but the decision to go with the least powerful of them translates to an underwhelming power increase.

Check out the table below to see how it stacks up against the competition.

Tuner Power Torque 0 to 60 Time Top Speed
Carbonfiber Dynamics 700 horsepower 634 pound-feet of torque 3.0 seconds* 205 mph*
G-Power 600 horsepower 610 pound-feet of torque 3.5 seconds 200 mph*
B&B Automobiltechnik 580 horsepower 533 pound-feet of torque 3.5 seconds* 200 mph*
Alpha-N Performance 520 horsepower 501 pound-feet of torque 3.9 seconds* 186 mph
McChip 517 horsepower 405 pound-feet of torque 3.9 seconds 155 mph (with speed limiter)

Suspension

So far, the Alpha-N Performance’s M4 CRT build isn’t as good as you’d expect it to be and no paper, the fully adjustable Ohlins R/T suspension system that the tuner installed to keep everything from falling apart isn’t a significant enough upgrade to really turn some heads. Things could change though depending on how the sports car handles and at the very least, there are enough reason to be optimistic about that.

Pricing

2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance Exterior High Resolution
- image 714887

Alpha-N Performance has not provided a price on its BMW M4 CRT sports coupe so the best way to learn its cost would be to contact the tuner directly. Considering that the M4 CS costs €116,900, cross those fingers that Alpha-N Performance doesn’t charge more than that. Here’s to also hoping that the total cost of the upgrades, plus the car itself, doesn’t fetch more than $100,000, which is our estimated price of the M4 CS in the U.S.

Competition

BMW M4 by McChip

2016 BMW M4 by Mcchip-DKR
- image 671267
2016 BMW M4 by Mcchip-DKR
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Even if the BMW M4 CRT doesn’t pan out, these upgrades could help fill that tuning void. One of these upgrades comes by way of McChip, which is offering its own power and performance upgrade that amounts to an increased output of 517 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. It’s actually the closest kit in terms of net output to Alpha-N Performance’s program so this could form a good basis of comparison between the two programs.

Read the full review here.

BMW M4 by B&B Automobiltechnik

2016 BMW M4 By B&B Automobiltechnik
- image 703573
2016 BMW M4 By B&B Automobiltechnik High Resolution Exterior
- image 663572

The B&B Automobiltechnik program mentioned earlier also comes with Stage 1 and Stage 2 kits should the 580-horsepower Stage 3 kit be “too powerful” for your tastes. Both the Stage 1 and Stage 2 kits provide software tunes to the coupe’s six-cylinder engine and are good for 490 horsepower and 540 horsepower, respectively.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2017 BMW M4 CRT by Alpha-N Performance Exterior High Resolution
- image 714879

I’m not exactly sure what to make of Alpha-N Performance’s BMW M4 CRT. On the one hand, I appreciate Alpha’s attempt to bring back the E90 M3 CRT by using the M4 as a canvas to recreate the features that made the limited edition M3 so desirable as a collector’s piece today. On the other hand, doing so inhibits the tuner from really putting its most potent program on the table. There should be a market for the car given its story, but don’t expect it to be from people who really want to make the most of the M4’s power and performance potential. For that, it’s probably better to look elsewhere for an aftermarket kit.

  • Leave it
    • * Could’ve been better had the tuner really flexed its muscle
    • * Not for everyone
    • * More powerful upgrades out there
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