It might be meat and potatoes, but there’s something about that straight-six, rear wheel-drive formula that just works. As far as E36 hillclimbers go, this blaze orange creation isn’t the wildest by a stretch—that award might go to this Cosworth-powered baddie—but it is effective. Plus, with that snarling six echoing off the canyon walls, there’s a lot to like.
Not only does the 3.2-liter engine rise to a sonorous crescendo at 8,200 revs, but it makes a whopping 330 horsepower and looks to provide a sweet, broad, and accessible powerband that makes it a peach over slow corners and bumpy surfaces. Having a sequential gearbox ensures that six-cylinder is never out of the meat of its powerband, either.
It’s also remarkably light at just 2,400 pounds, and with some obvious aero pieces, like a hefty diffuser and a broad splitter that could shovel snow if needed, it looks fairly planted and consoling at speed. After all, with the barriers as close as they are, it pays dividends to trust a machine when there’s really no room for error.
Like another mega-competent E36 which made headlines not long ago, this car shows how it’s able to punch above its weight with a benign chassis balance, wonderful response, and exploitable performance. In other words, it makes good use of every one of those ponies and every square inch of its contact patches, and spends very little of its time spinning its tires. Essentially, this car is an unadulterated, efficient, and fat-free machine made for the job of carving up a Swiss hillclimb.