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.

Rusty Slammington: New Video of the (controversial) Rebirth

October 6, 2011

If there ever was an automobile within the popular ‘Stanceworks’ scene of this day and age that has divided more opinions on its (de?)-evolution, various builds, chops, suspension/paint/body/interior destructions and eventual trial-by-fire, it is undoubtedly this particular BMW E28 5-series. It has has also engulfed itself with more nicknames than that goofy/popular kid achieved in your own high-school.

Quite what you may think of it (and its caretaker, Mike Burroughs) remains your own valued opinion, but one’s thing for sure… The rebirth will be both anticipated and loathed in equally large numbers.

Here’s a preview/teaser that just popped up on the radar…

-Blake J.


Pic of the Day: BMW M1 Supercar – sideways

September 29, 2011

So keeping with the theme of sideways action from earlier (not sure why I’m bedazzled by such hoonery today), lets embellish our pixellated world with another go in the form of the iconic BMW M1 supercar… which is actually connected with Lamborghini. In the late 70’s, BMW and Lamborghini formed an agreement that would see the Italians co-build a production racing car purely for homologation purposes, but Lamborghini’s financial woes at the time eventually saw BMW take hold of the entire project shortly after the whole thing started.

The twin-cam (M88) 3.5L 273 bhp (in the street version) straight-6 was a a surefire corker and later saw use within the rather excellent BMW E24 M6/M635CSi and E28 M5 from the 80’s. Yet the turbocharged racecar versions were good for almost 850 bhp… !

From ’78-’81 only 456 examples of the Giugiaro-designed, hand-built supercar were made, easily dubbing it one of BMW’s rarest (and missed) cars ever produced.

Blake J.

Lamborghini Countach: Graceful drift up a Welsh hillside + More..!

September 29, 2011

Oh so short in length, but oh so sweet… Evo Magazine scribe, Chris Harris (or simply, ‘Monkey’) dances with a Countach up a Welsh hillside in slightly damp conditions with near pin-point accuracy.  The Lamborghini being elegantly swooned up the hair-pinned mountainside belongs to Evo Mag head-honcho, Harry Metcalfe, and has been featured in various articles within Evo and Octane Magazine. This particular shot is an outtake from the latest Evo’s Lamborghini Group Test feature.

And since we’re on the subject of power oversteer-y hooniganisms (not a real word, I know, just made it up), why not have a gander at an instructional vid to assist with your sharpening-up of skills and to further your driver *ahem*…education. Bit of an older vid from Mr Harris’s online-magazine days of ‘Driver’s Republic’ but oh so fun and entertaining…. and *whistles*… educational!

-Blake J.!


BMW Z4 vs BMW Z4 GT3

August 23, 2011

The BMW Z4 Design Pure Balance doesn’t only mean that you have drive with style but its also a sporty car as well. Check it out for yourself!

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