Actually, according to the Bentley, VANOS is there to enhance mid-range performance. To quote from the book:
"At low speed, the intake valves open late to ensure smooth engine operation. At mid-range speeds, the valves open early, for increased torque, improved driveability, and reduced emissions. And at high speeds, the valves again open late for optimum power and performance."
The horsepower and torque figures for both engines are exactly the same, 189hp@5900, 181ft/lbs@4700. What I would like to see is a graph with the hp and torque curves for both engines. That might lay this controversy to rest. But then again, probably not.
1995 325I, tinted windows, K&N, debaffled air box, BMW style #104 wheels, Nighthawk low beams, smoked side markers, smoked corners, smoked taillights, M3 style heated mirrors, various interior bits, Bosal cat-back