New race driving BMW
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.