New race driv­ing BMW

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

HUGE changes are rac­ing through BMW’s pres­ti­gious M sub­sidiary as it chases fuel econ­omy and lower emis­sions. It isn’t giv­ing up on its rac­ing her­itage but it’s broad­en­ing its out­look.

Diesel isn’t be­ing ruled out and even elec­tric power could be brought un­der the M um­brella with par­ent BMW’s news that it is to launch the al­l­elec­tric MegaC­ity car in 2013.

Head of devel­op­ment at M, Al­bert Bier­mann, says a huge 25 per cent is to be carved off the fuel con­sump­tion and emis­sions of the next BMW M5.

But it doesn’t stop there. The stop-go technology is now stan­dard in Euro­pean M3s — man­ual and the dual-clutch auto — and Bier­mann says light­weight con­struc­tion will be broad­ened across all M mod­els.

‘‘We have an ul­tra-light­weight strat­egy,’’ Bier­mann says. ‘‘That in­cludes car­bon fi­bre for the roof of the M3 — and the next M5 — and chas­sis com­po­nents.

He says a MegaC­ity M ver­sion sounds im­plau­si­ble — but adds elec­tric mo­tors are pow­er­ful enough to pro­vide ex­hil­a­rat­ing per­for­mance and that sus­pen­sion and chas­sis dy­nam­ics could pro­duce a car with ex­cep­tional road han­dling.

‘‘It’s not just the en­gine per­for­mance — it’s the whole pack­age,’’ he says. ‘‘A test for us is the Nur­bur­gring test track. An M car should be fast, safe and con­fi­dent at a high-speed level.

‘‘We’ll never give up on good lap times. But hav­ing the fastest ac­cel­er­a­tion or the great­est top speed is less im­por­tant.’’

BMW is now hand­ing over to own­ers the first batch of the M3 GTS. From early next year, the 1-Se­ries M Coupe will be avail­able.

En­gines are also chang­ing to meet the chal­lenges of re­duc­ing fuel con­sump­tion. Bier­mann says M once made high-revving en­gines ‘‘be­cause of our link with rac­ing’’.

‘‘How­ever, things change,’’ he says. ‘‘High­revving en­gines and small axle ra­tios are ideal for rac­ing, but not a good idea when you chase fuel ef­fi­ciency.

BMW’s M di­vi­sion makes 150,000 cars a year, ei­ther badged M or with the M pack­ages fit­ted.

Big changes: diesel and elec­tric are fu­elling BMW’s pres­ti­gious M sub­sidiary.

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