BMW: Next M3 Will Feature Inline-6 Power

May 22, 2012

BMW’s North American boss, Ludwig Willisch, has confirmed that the next M3 will ditch the current naturally-aspirated V8 in favour of the classic inline-6 configuration that has powered the M3 in past e36 and e46 chassis outings… Unlike past efforts though, this new inline-6 will undoubtedly feature 2, or possibly even 3, turbo chargers bolted on to harness (and of course, needlessly surpass) the extra grunt required in this day and age.

Rendering of the next M3

There were initial plans for a chopped/sliced/turbocharged V6 derivative of the current, free-breathing 4.0L V8 but those plans have now been set aside. All that’s left to squandor over now is just how much forced induction tech will be nailed onto the inline-6 to achieve the ever-ridiculous power-increase that is required to sell units… I mean, we’re seriously looking at 440-450 bhp… in an M3… that will probably tack-on more weight/bulk anyways (just like the latest, porky-pie M5).

The current (chunky) V8 M3 with the ‘Performance Pack’

It’s pretty safe to say that the M3 is entering into that shady area of motoring now where its massive power-output will soon become an un-accessible entity on normal roads, for normal drivers… As the true saying goes – More power, more weight, more grip = Less fun.

The naturally-aspirated (and mad fun) inline-6 e46 M3 CSL

Of course I’d be in the minority here, but I’d happily trade 3-400 kgs of shed weight from the next M3 (the current M3 is a porky-pants as well) and a gutsy, responsive, 375 bhp, naturally-aspirated inline-6 over some muted, tri-turbo variation dishing out more torque and power than 99% of the M3 drivers on the road can even handle or comprehend.

Not the most-favourite M3, but its naturally-aspirated inline-6 provided driving thrills to coincide with its chassis.

Sure, it’ll ‘go like hell’ but at what cost to the driving enthusiast who enjoys the reachable and exploitable nuances displayed by M3’s of yore… ?

I’d still take the original, 4-cyl. e30 M3 over them all…

Message to BMW re: the M3: We want lightweight FUN, not extra weight and massive power.

-Blake J.

Turbos in F1: Documentary Highlights Its Birth

March 26, 2012

A fascinating 2-part period-era documentary here from the 1980s focusing on the emerging computerized presence in F1. As the narrator aptly puts it – “Gone are the oily rags and the flat-capped amateurs… Here, computers, rubber, metalogy, synthetics, electronics and aerodynamics consume fortunes…”

Many have sustained that it was this exact movement/moment in F1 when the heavy focus on decimal-obsessed, precisional accuracy replaced the ‘fun’ aspect of racing… Few would argue that it definitely signalled the end of an era and the beginning of a new one that resides to this day though.

At nearly 2 hours in length (in 2 parts), it’s a bit of a long-haul, but I cannot stress how interesting this documentary is in exposing the newfound troubles, clashes and endless headaches that permeated throughout the sport in the ’80s when these technologies were new and fresh yet bewilderingly complicated for their creators…

Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the Renault of 1977 - the first-ever (yet highly problematic) Turbo F1 car


-Blake J.

Classic 70’s and 80’s BMW Motorsport: A Photo Album

February 28, 2012

The BMW Motorsport Division was a dominant force on racetracks worldwide in the 1970’s and 80’s. Both privateers and the BMW works teams taking chequered flags on a fairly regular basis. Here we present an assortment of mostly rare photos from that exciting era… Enjoy..!

The unstoppable 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ having a spit of flame on the overrun.

BMW E21 320 Turbo Group 5 being tended-to in a convenient manner while an M1 Procar sits off to the right and a 3.0 CSL hovers in behind… Nice black-sasquatch boots by the way

E30 M3 leaping its way across the chicane

M1 Procar driven by Hans Stuck

E24 635CSi just stepping out for a dab of oppo…

BMW M-mechanics sorting through their combined wizardry on the 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ lump.

The 2002 wide-body racer belching out some flames

Page from an old Alpina brochure showcasing the BMW 2002 and 3.0 CSL racing efforts – look at the dish on those wheels..!

A classic photo from the era – 3.0 CSL flying at the Nurburgring

The 2002 cocking a leg up on the push from the bend

The E24 6-series having a sideways glance towards the corner

M1 Procar advertising one of the oddest-ever combinations of sponsors – Bosch, BBS, Penthouse and Pooh Jeans… The perks must have been outstanding..!

Oh y’know… just a regular Autobahn commute on a Monday morning

Alpina-liveried 3.0 CSL…

The JPS (John Players Special) sponsored E24 635CSi…

Not really a competition-based photo, but who could turn down an Alpina-smothered 2002 on lock…

The 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ attacking a bend…

Another one of the E24 635CSi…

E30 M3 braking late for the corner…

E21 320 Turbo Group-5 car clearing some tarmac.

More leaping shenanigans… Not exactly a ‘motorsport’ photo but a classic 2002 pic nontheless

Going slightly off track here again – the T100 F2 car of 1967

The E9 3.0 CSL ‘Art car’ being chased by a Martini-liveried Porsche 911

The M-cars of the 80’s – E30 M3, E28 M5 and the E24 M6

Again, not exactly motorsport-related… but who doesn’t enjoy a sideways M1

In conclusion, how could I NOT include the competition-spec BMW Microcar…!?

-Blake J.

MINI: 10-Model Lineup by 2020

January 19, 2012

Mini has announced that the brand will encompass a 10-model portfolio by the year 2020. Specific details are, as predicted, a bit sketchy at this point in time but Mini boss, Dr. Kay Segler, did shed some light on the fact that the next-gen 2014 Mini hatch will be based on/around the new front-wheel-drive BMW Group platform.

Hopefully the Mini brand will utilise this ambitious new brand-stretching outlook by offering the public something smaller, rather than something bigger… which seems to be the general direction of its products at this point – How about just a mini-er… Mini…? (ie: Mini Rocketman concept from last year)

So lets run this down now: a coupe, a convertible, a hatchback, a roadster, the Clubman, the Countryman, the Countryman coupe (Paceman, coming in 2013) and then an additional 3 new models… Hmm… Genius marketing or an overzealous stretching of brand ideals… ?

-Blake J.

BMW ///M-Diesels: Frugal Mass For The Performance Poser

January 16, 2012

It was not too long ago that I lightly bemused with a BMW upper-management employee type at one of our city’s annual Auto Shows over how the used-to-be-motorsport-derived ///M Division had now been (seemingly) handed over to the brand’s Marketing Division, full-stop. He admittedly hinted that ///M has indeed ‘expanded’ its overall outlook and that, yes, the X6M and X5M were designed and marketed towards ‘a certain type of landscape navigator’. But when I (somewhat jokingly) asked how far this open throwing about of M-badges will go (seeing as how it was/has already damaged the ///M brand from a driver’s/petrolhead’s point of view) if the Marketing heads keep having their way with the family silver, it was at that exact moment when he freakishly morphed himself back into Company Robot Mode and started spouting off the familiar company-line commercial BS about ‘joy’ and ‘excitement’ and ‘no limits’ and other such robotic drivel…

After he was done, I half-laughingly said, “So, I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised then to see M-Diesels on the roads one day… eh.. ? Hardy har har…? ?”, as I chuckled, smiled, shook his hand and walked away… He just shrugged his shoulders and smirked.

That shrug and smirk made me feel uneasy back then for a reason… It’s official now folks: BMW ///M is now doing tri-turbo Diesels. Granted, this Diesel nonsense has been widely known/threatened for a few months now, what with ominous paper printouts and ‘mysterious’ BMW ads with chunky X6’s being hauled around in a ‘sportingly economical’ way, whatever that is…

...Because all X6 SUV owners readily pound the racetrack... mm, hmm.

The entire Diesel project has been unimaginitively dubbed ‘BMW Performance Automobiles’ (seriously) and will make its grand unveiling at the Geneva Show in March of this year. On tap to roll out will be the 5-series derived M550d xDrive followed by the much-maligned X6 M50d SUV of which both will feature 4-wheel drive and BMWs new 381hp, 546lb ft tri-turbo diesel engine. Combined fuel consumption for the 5-series variant is a quoted 44.8 mpg, but as we all know, those figures are never real-world figures.

The X6M - the answer to a question that no one asked.

Seeing as how these two new ‘Performance Automobile’ leviathans will weigh in excess of 2000 kg, it simply baffles the brain as to who, exactly, these cars are aimed at… Obviously, the none-too-bright and (as BMWs Marketing Division is well aware of) those that fit nicely within the ‘There’s one born every minute’ frame… and die-hard one-arm-stretched-out-over-the-wheel posers… of which there are many of in this confusing world.

The man helping to put the ///M into Marketing

Or, as M Division boss Dr. Friedrich Nitschke plummets – “We are targeting our efforts at customers looking for more emotionality and more performance, but who don’t want to forgo the everyday usability of their cars.” Riiiiiight…. thanks robot.

Well done BMW ///M – cha-ching..!

-Blake J.

Mini: Making A Van – Finally..!

January 3, 2012

When glancing back at all of the Mini derivatives and show/concept cars that have cropped up over the last 8 years or so, it seems almost ludicrous that a Mini Cargo Van hasn’t entered into the list of appetite-whetting possibilities until now. Yet it seems that, finally, ze Germans have decided that now is that time…

The Mini has been here before...

The scene will be the Geneva Show in March and German Automotive sources (helps if you know a smidge of German) are predicting a 2-seater Clubman with the rear seats and other assorted gubbins taken out with the rear side-windows replaced, appropriately, with sheet metal.

...and it worked brilliantly back then.

It goes without saying that this Mini Cargo will be aimed at the hip commercial vehicle sector and to those that might want a new slice of the old – as the above pictures show, this isn’t the first time the Mini has been down this road. Should be interesting, nontheless… just as long as they refrain from chucking 19″ wheels on it and making it ‘sporty’.

$20 says they will.

Next up for Mini – the Mini pick-up…! (C’mon, you know you want one…)

-Blake J.

Spied: The 2015 BMW i8

December 29, 2011

It’s nearing the end of the year, so I’m going to hypothetically ’empty my pockets’ here and declare that I find this ‘i8’ hybrid creation from BMW completely and absolutely hideous – always have. Right from its initial unveiling back in 2009 as a styling/futuristic exercise dubbed ‘Vision Efficient Dynamics’ to the latest ‘i’ sub-brand (do we really need more ‘i’ in our marketed lives..?), it has always managed to make me wretch and squirm… and I’m not alone.

Really now... this excites..?

It’s just one of those things I suppose – sometimes certain objects just don’t sit right within your world. As an automotive indicator-of-things-to-come, I’d rather sit through the entire Murder She Wrote DVD library… with nothing but applesauce and spam to ingest over its entire duration… than ingest this.

There. Got that out of the way… now we can move on!

So what we have here for you is both a series of i8 spy-shots and an advertisement for both Brenda Priddy & Company and Car and Driver, it would seem. Gone are the silly see-thru doors from the prototype in aid of proper side-impact protection, yet they still appear to have a swan-door opening procedure about them. Everything else appears to have been smoothed/melted over and (obviously) toned down to ‘production-ready’ levels of accessibility.

To quote Car and Driver who first unveiled these pics  – “Tucked behind the front end is the electric half of the i8’s plug-in hybrid powertrain; it will be fed juice by a long, lithium-polymer battery pack located in what would normally be the transmission tunnel. Together, they should be able to propel the i8 some 20 miles in zero-emissions mode”.

Scheduled for 2015, BMW will at least (hopefully) have some time to sort out that layered-cake roofline, pudgy rear-end and the complete lack of any 3/4 rear-view whatsoever… or not. Nowadays, everyone loves *beeping* back-up sensors splashed across the backside of their cars anyways… Oh, and I’ve saved my final rant for last – STOP CALLING THIS A SUPERCAR…!! IT’S A QUESTIONABLY-STYLED HYBRID COUPE HATCHBACK WITH FLASHY SWAN DOORS..!!

-Blake J.

BMW ///M – Now What Have You Gone and Done…?!

December 5, 2011

My brow is furrowed – it has been for the last 20 minutes. I’ve hurled myself into the day by watching a video and reading a report that highly alludes to the very-possible creation of a vehicle within the (once coveted) BMW *ahem*… ‘Motorsport’ M-Division that is swiftly morphing said furrowed-brow towards the realm of a small headache – The pig-ugly, unnecessarily massive and ridiculously unpractical X6M will soon be launched as an M-tweaked Diesel.

Nice try, Marketing guys...

Deary me. It was bad enough having to stomach the constant rumblings of a forthcoming M-badged 5-series Deisel (in the form of an ‘M550D’) but this news (and blured video – nice try BMW) just further tears away at the core of what the M-Division… er, used-to stand for.

Heck, let”s be honest – the downhill run for ///M began years ago…

They just don’t seem to understand that freely handing-out the M-badge amongst the eco Marketing hacks to stick onto the back of whatever bloated, jacked-up leviathan they deem worthy within the fleet line-up is ultimately damaging in the long run not only to (once coveted) ///M-ness, but the BMW brand itself. M is the beating heart of agile and precisional performance for BMW, not the Marketing Department’s plaything to assist in shifting units…

When the M-Division 'gets it' right - the outstanding 1M

In recent times they’ve been brilliant (BMW 1M) and they’ve also proven to be a bit silly (fake/synthesized engine sounds coming through the Hi-fi in the new bombastic M5) but lately they’ve been a bit pointlessly annoying (X5M and X6M) and now they’ve just become downright ridiculous…

I don’t give a rat’s b-hind how much inflated power and torque this new tri-turbo Diesel X6M unit will chuck out to assist in hurling this 2-tonne-plus mistake down the road… This is a vehicle aimed at ex-Club guy tossers, beauty-queen wives and the utterly confused. Point blank.

"An X6M tri-turbo Diesel... ?! Yeah baby, we're down wit dat..."

And you can’t swoon me with your new M3-based DTM racer either, BMW M – you have definitely lost your way… and ultimately, a life-long fan. Tsk tsk…

-Blake J.

A.I. Question Time: Has BMW ///M Lost its Way…?

October 24, 2011

An article on the web today involving an answer from an obvious question has sparked my debate-cap… and I want your feedback. Inside Line asked Albert Biermann, current BMW M-Division Head of Product Development, if they’d like to build their own M-car solely within the walls of the M-Division, much like AMG does with its Mercedes-derived cars. Albert gave the rather-obvious affirmative answer and thus claimed “From an engineering perspective we have the skills and we’d love to do it,” he said. “We’ve discussed it several times but we’ve never been able to make the business case. Everything we do has to make money.”

He then went on to state that BMW M is prepared to adapt to the development of ‘socially acceptable’ and ‘alternative’ powertrains, whether those be electric or combustion. So basically he was saying that they’d love to do anything that the head Bean-counters and Social Marketing departments will allow them to do… He then went on utter some other nonsense about “not ruling out a Diesel M-car”… which made me shudder and cower into a ball of undisguised pain.

New M5 - engineered to flatter your socially acceptable self - fake soundtrack via the stereo too..!

But where he really raises the fur is when he says that the current ‘horsepower race’ was coming to an end (a good thing) because BMW M-cars are all about driver-involvement, fun, emotion, etc… not horsepower… Riiiight… so the new 562 bhp M5 is a clear indication of that thinking…? Seeing as how the previous M5 had a paltry 500 bhp…? ? ? …*shakes head* … Coupling that statement with his recent reasoning/complaint that “manual transmissions cannot handle the current levels of horsepower and torque [really ?] and therefore DCT transmissions are the only way forward” (what with their electronic ability to stroke the driver’s ego), I’m finding myself caught within this man’s web of annoyingly contradictory claims and future visions for the ///M brand.

As a driving enthusiast, I would happily sacrifice 100 bhp from the M5’s currently over-inflated 562 bhp output if it meant I could enjoy an M-car in the way that any serious driver should. Save the nerdy and tech-laden DCT transmissions for the non-///M cars, bumbling business execs, posers, occasional track-junkies and those that, well, simply cannot drive nor connect with a manual. The argument that DCT’s are ‘quicker’ than a manual has to be the most ridiculously infantile response within motoring circles on the subject when you’re talking about a car that is driven on the road.. Really know, when are you actually requiring that 0.3 of -a-second quickness in time in THE REAL WORLD ON REAL EVERYDAY ROADS…? Think about it…

1M claimed (by BMW) to have been an homage to the original, iconic E30 M3... Not quite, but definitely an impressive effort towards what ///M used to stand for

DCT’s, while being technically superior, can become rather boring on a day-to-day basis, whereas a manual transmission is all about engaging and developing an interaction with your motor and finely honing a (albeit, dying/fading) skill – I wholly appreciate that they actually require some skill and coordination to drive properly (ie: to rev match and heel-toe). With a manual transmission, it’s not the car’s electronics flattering you, it’s your honed skills impressing your own self – big difference. You’re constantly learning how to become a better driver. Let’s be clear – The current tech-fest is slowly removing the drivers from the experience of driving.

A BMW M-car is (well, used to be) all about unequalled driver-involvement with the machine; a stonkingly vocal, naturally-aspirated engine, a manual gearbox, a fantastic chassis/suspension setup and (crucially) loads of feel/feedback/info being shared between you and the car. Anyone who’s driven or owned any M-car from the 80’s on up to the 2003 E46 M3 will know what I’m talking about…

The one and only M1 supercar - I say 'don't bother' with an attempted 'socially-accepted' follow-up now.

What will it take to convince BMW-M to strip out out all those unnecessary electronics and gadgets (thereby saving weight) that are shoved inside current M-cars (save for the 1M), give us back hydraulic power steering and naturally aspirated engines within a specialised low-volume plan aimed at driving enthusiasts….? Leave the turbos, eletronic gizmos, DCT/flappy-paddle gearboxes and worries about ‘Social Acceptability’ for the high-volume range of BMW products… you know – soccer moms, lazy drivers/posers and those that buy their cars as status symbols. GIVE US BACK OUR RAW M-CARS FOR REAL DRIVING ENTHUSIASTS…!!!

Porsche themselves prove that this dedication-to-rawness can be done successfully. Look at the amazing GT3. If the recent (and criminally under-produced/sold-out) BMW 1M is anything to go by, then perhaps BMW ///M will have re-learnt that a relatively low-volume, old-school-embued simplicity platform/outlook (and relative lightness – though it should have been much lighter) is key to maintaining the  ///M core values… But I’m not betting on it. The 1-series M Coupe was pushed through by Kay Segler (no longer with BMW M-Division) and according to articles/interviews I’ve read with Segler, the 1M was a painfully frustrating process that almost never even happened.

Remember this...? Engaging in interactive fun with your BMW

From where I’m sitting, BMW ///M is no longer aiming at real driving enthusiasts with raw driving products. If you want that, you have to look at Porsche and its GT3 (amongst others). BMW ///M is now all about luxury and horsepower, useless ‘circle-group’-derived gadgetry, ‘social acceptance’ and unneccesary levels of tech aimed at less-than-satisfactory drivers who enjoy having an over-horsepowered, electronically-nannied vehicle make them look like a driving God.

-Blake J.

Pic of the Day: BMW 3.0 CSL Alpina

October 12, 2011

Equally stunning off the track as on it, the legendary BMW 3.0 CSL (Coupe Sport Leichtbau – ‘L’ meaning lightweight) of the 1970’s managed to claim the top Championship prize for the European Touring Car series in ’73 and then for 5 years in a row from ’75 – ’79. The Bavarian ‘Batmobile’ was introduced by BMW’s Motorsport division in 1972 and quickly won over the crowds and racecar drivers fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to witness and/or drive/tame these menacing beasts.

Displaying the BMW styling trademarks of the day – the undercut ‘sharknose’ front-end housing those quad head-lamps, the sleek and simple waistline leading to the ‘Hofmeister’ kink within the C-pillar and the pert posterior – the beautifully svelte E9 coupe bodyshell was alleviated to near-cartoonish levels of visual drama during the transformation to full-on race-spec CSL. A deep front air-dam, ‘fins’ that run along the tops of the front wings, the roof spoiler and the hugely iconic (and enormous) rear wing – it was a mixture of understated elegance mixing with visually dramatic levels of racing-aero knowledge of the time.

-Blake J.

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