The paddle shifter sends a wireless signal to a control box mounted on M7's rear strut brace system in the trunk. This in turn actuates the cables that shift the gears. Actuation time is just 240 milliseconds. A professional driver might equal that in a slam-change from first to second or third to fourth, but there's no way anyone can select a gear across the gate in anything remotely approaching that time.
The system is also future-proofed: it has a programmable flash memory. Through this upgrade path, a fully automated clutch engagement system could be incorporated if there was enough demand.
Clutch safety protocols may be set so that if the long sequential shifter is touched accidentally, it won't initiate a shift without the clutch being depressed first. In addition, neutral and reverse are locked out by a driver-adjustable time delay protocol, which means pulling on the stick for the preset time before the system allows selection.
Best of all for keen drivers, gears can be stacked both up and down the 'box. While flying down a straight in fifth, it's possible to pre-select third for the next corner and the software would not initiate that downshift until safely within the engine speed range of third gear. An LED display in the bespoke anodized aluminum pod indicates which gear has been selected.
With the H-pattern gearshift removed from the equation, I was happy to use paddle shifts in city traffic. This proved not only quick and smooth in operation but also a lot less fiddly than a normal manual. Keeping both hands on the wheel gives more control anyway and makes for maximum steering stability should the need arise to shift mid-corner for any reason.
I was also impressed with the improvement an M7 upgrade has made to the snappiness and power of the turbocharged engine. "We use sophisticated airflow management testing equipment to design and test our Super AGS cold air intake system," Horvath explains. "The intake tract behind this features vortex generators to improve ram intake velocity and the air filter element has a total surface area of over 1,100 square inches. This is more than enough area to work as a filter for a big-block V8 engine and so removes significant restriction from the intake system."
Downstream of this is M7's silicone turbocharger downtube bypassing the factory pipe. The M7 intercooler is a bar-and-plate type with one-eighth NTP fittings pre-and post-intercooler, so a temperature probe or water/methanol injection system may be installed. The latter is an effective and relatively inexpensive way of raising octane levels from 91 to 113 (MON). The turbocharger itself is modified with a specially machined and finely balanced impeller wheel, while the factory turbo housing is subtly modified to improve airflow. An Alta three-inch diameter sports exhaust helps the spent gases on their way with a healthy burble.
Horvath uses the Unichip ECU tuning system, mapped for higher boost pressure, and the commensurate fuel and spark. It also provides the option of two different maps that can be accessed at the flick of a switch. The first is for normal fuel and the second is optimized for water/methanol injection or racing fuel.
It's not unusual for a turbocharged car to lose power in high ambient temperatures and when the underhood area gets hot from the turbo/exhaust system. M7 offers specialized heat shields made from Aerogel, an aerospace substance, to keep those temperatures down and thus maintain engine output.
Aerogel features nanotechnology with unsurpassed heat rejection. An Aerogel blanket is placed above the factory exhaust manifold heat shield to minimize heat migration to the engine bay. This blanket is so effective that it is safe to the touch after driving the car flat-out on the highway.