Beefier BMWs pack pric­etags to match

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - JOSHUA DOWL­ING

How do you make per­for­mance-car buy­ers happy? Give them more grunt. How do you make car com­pa­nies rich? Drip-feed up­grades over sev­eral years so buy­ers come back for more than one.

This for­mula is not ex­clu­sive to BMW but it helps ex­plain why there is an up­dated M5 sedan just a year after it went on sale — and its smaller sib­ling, the angry-look­ing M2, now comes with a big help­ing of ex­tra power after just two-anda-half years in the mar­ket.

The up­dates wear M5 Com­pe­ti­tion and M2 Com­pe­ti­tion badges. Reg­u­lar non-Com­pe­ti­tion ver­sions are no longer avail­able.

BMW fa­nat­ics might not com­plain about such big up­grades in such a short space of time but the price could light them up.

The lux­ury M2 costs from $104,900 plus on­roads but with op­tions you can push past $120,000 by the time you’re in the traf­fic.

The ex­tra money buys the more pow­er­ful twin-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylin­der from the big brother M3 and M4. The claimed 0-100km/h time has been trimmed to 4.2 and 4.4 sec­onds for the auto and man­ual re­spec­tively, al­though such fig­ures have been shown to be op­ti­mistic in real-world con­di­tions.

BMW fit­ted a new front bumper with slightly larger vents for bet­ter air­flow to the slightly big­ger cool­ers.

The M2 Comp also gets dis­tinc­tive wheels. Six-pis­ton front brakes and four-pis­ton rears are a $3000 op­tion, re­plac­ing the stan­dard fourpis­ton front and two-pis­ton rear set-up.

The M5 has risen from $199,900 to $229,900. Its twin turbo 4.4-litre V8 gets a touch more power but no ex­tra torque.

The sus­pen­sion has been low­ered and re­tuned, a car­bon-fi­bre roof is now stan­dard (the sun­roof op­tion comes with a metal roof ) and BMW has found a way to pump more engine and ex­haust noise into the cabin.

Backed by a con­ven­tional eight-speed auto and with all-wheel drive, the V8 clocks 3.3 secs for the 0 to 100km/h sprint, trim­ming 0.1 sec from the pre­vi­ous ver­sion — thanks to the AWD, it’s more likely to be re­peat­able.

BMW staged a pre­view drive at Syd­ney Mo­tor­sport Park to ex­plore and ex­ploit the po­ten­tial of these epic ma­chines, un­der the guid­ance of pro­fes­sional race driv­ers, led by re­cent Bathurst 1000 win­ner Steven Richards.

The race aces led the way and yelled in­struc­tions over the ra­dio — which the engine drowned out. The M2 and M5 have long legs when it comes to straight-line power but the M5 is in an­other league when ex­it­ing cor­ners, the out­stand­ing AWD mak­ing mere mor­tals ap­pear halfway com­pe­tent.

The M2 is still an en­gag­ing and at times twitchy beast. Its short wheel­base and am­ple out­puts make it too easy to over­power the grip from the rear tyres.

On both cars, the sus­pen­sion felt firm even on a smooth race­track. Per­haps that’s why we were here and not on pub­lic roads.

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