Track Battle: Can The Ultra-lightweight Caterham 360R Take On The BMW M3 xDrive Competition - story fullscreen Fullscreen

Track Battle: Can The Ultra-lightweight Caterham 360R Take On The BMW M3 xDrive Competition

This hot-lap battle between a Caterham 360R and a BMW M3 Competition xDrive prove that numbers don’t tell the whole story

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Power to weight ratio is an important tangible aspect of any car when it comes to performance. But where is the point in which big horsepower prevails over a better power-to-weight ratio? Auto Express has provided an answer to that, by pitting the ultra-lightweight Caterham 360R versus the tech-heavy BMW M3 xDrive Competition, in a race around a racetrack.

BMW M3 xDrive Competition

Track Battle: Can The Ultra-lightweight Caterham 360R Take On The BMW M3 xDrive Competition
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The BMW represents modern-day performance saloons. It also happens to be the one everyone else in the segment measures against. Its S58, 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six engine puts out 503 horsepower at 6,250 RPM and 479 pound-feet (650 Nm) at 2,750 to 5,500 RPM. In the case of this one, power goes to all four wheels through the familiar, eight-speed ZF automatic.

All that modern tech, however, adds weight and the BMW M3 weighs in at 4,089 pounds (1,855 kg). This makes for a power-to-weight ratio of 217 horsepower per ton. Grip comes from Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. The official 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time is 3.5 seconds, but independent tests have revealed times of under 3.0 seconds, for cars equipped with the xDrive, al-wheel-drive system.

Caterham 360R

Track Battle: Can The Ultra-lightweight Caterham 360R Take On The BMW M3 xDrive Competition
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The Caterham is the complete opposite of the BMW M3. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four engine that makes 180 horsepower and 143 pound-feet (194 Nm). Power goes to the rear wheels only, through a six-speed manual, which results in a 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time of 4.8 seconds.

All that simplicity and lightness translates to a curb weight of 1,234 pounds (560 kg) and a power-to-weight ratio of 321 horsepower per ton. Traction comes from Avon ZZS tires. It’s clear that the BMW is quicker in a straight line, but on a technical circuit, it’s as much about the chassis and weight as it is about the engine.

The track showdown

Track Battle: Can The Ultra-lightweight Caterham 360R Take On The BMW M3 xDrive Competition
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Both cars do a flying lap, which could be seen simultaneously, in the video below. Around the technical circuit, the much lighter Caterham should be at an advantage. However, the BMW is a force to be reckoned with, as seen by the lap times. In the end, the German performance sedan managed a time of 1:18.6 while the Caterham 360R was more than four seconds ahead, with a lap time of 1:22.8.

At the end of the day, the BMW M3 shows that, unlike in the old days when a car’s power-to-weight ratio told the whole story, the turbo-torque, grip, and spot-on damping, secured a win for the BMW M3 Competition xDrive.


Dim Angelov
Dim Angelov
Born in 1992, I come from a family of motoring enthusiasts. My passion for cars was awoken at the age of six, when I saw a Lamborghini Diablo SV in a magazine. After high school I earned a master’s degree in marketing and a Master of Arts in Media and Communications. Over the years, I’ve practiced and become skilled in precision driving and to date have test driven more than 250 cars across the globe. Over the years, I’ve picked up basic mechanical knowledge and have even taken part in the restoration of a 1964 Jaguar E-Type and an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Lately, I’ve taken a fancy to automotive photography, and while modern cars are my primary passion, I also have a love for Asian Martial Arts, swimming, war history, craft beer, historical weapons, and car restoration. In time, I plan my own classic car restoration and hope to earn my racing certificate, after which I expect to establish my own racing team.  Read full bio
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