Thursday, 5 April 2007

BMW M Division: High Performance Inspiration

By Dr Long

– That one letter that inspires automotive passion and desire. Unadulterated high performance and technical perfection are the DNAs of BMW M cars.

BMW Motorsport GmbH was born in May 1972 as a subsidiary of BMW AG in Munich. It was founded by Jochen Neerspach and Martin Braungart, two ex-Ford racing executives - with just eight employees. Neerpasch was formerly a factory Porsche driver, while Braungart was a rally team driver for Mercedes. Also known as M-Technik or just “M” for Motorsport, its initial objective was to facilitate BMW’s racing program. BMW Motorsport’s New Class and New Six cars in the late 60s and early 70s were very successful at racing.

BMW M first project was the 3.0 CSL. An acronym for Coupe Sport Leicht or Lightweight, 1265 examples were built from 1972 to 1975. This first M coupe won seven European Racing Car titles.

With the growing market for high performance sports cars, M introduced cars for sale to the public. The M1 debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1978. Since then, BMW M has tweaked nearly every car on BMW’s production line (with exception of the 7 series and the X-series Sport Activity Vehicle).

This was followed by the 1979 release of the M535i which changed the direction of M division, towards high performance everyday car. Hereafter, like they always say “…And the rest is history”. To this day, BMW M offers modified engines, suspension, interior trim, enhanced aerodynamics and body works. The result is some of the most highly tuned street-legal cars. The objective of M division is to sell factory production sports cars that are comfortable enough for daily commuting while offering uncompromised driving satisfaction and performance.

In 1993, BMW Motorsport GmbH was renamed BMW M GmbH, Gesellschaft für individuelle Automobile. The three business groups BMW M Cars, BMW Individual and BMW Driver Training make BMW M GmbH an all-inclusive product and service company that has been developing sports and high-performance engines for more than 20 years.The M1, M3 and M5, the M635CSi and the 850CSi - to name but a few examples - have not only found a place in the hearts of automobile fans but their presence on the world's streets over the last 20 years has developed M into a legend. Not simply "old-fashioned" classics, they are living proof of the power of innovation and the fascination of BMW M.

These M classics include:
M1 1978
M635CSi 1984
M5 1984
M3 1986
850CSi 1992
M3 1992
M Roadster 1997
M Coupe 1998
M5 1998
M3 CSL 2003

Although part of BMW, the M Division charts its own direction. For example, the Z4 M Roadster/Coupe has hydraulic power-assisted steering because the M-engineers think this is better than the electric power steering of the standard Z4. Interestingly, BMW’s famed Active Steering and run-flat tyres are also not being favoured by the M-engineers for they distort the true sporting dynamics of an M car!
The development of high-performance cars that combine racing performance characteristics with absolute everyday practicality demands technically inventive acumen. At BMW M highly qualified technicians, engineers, designers and test drivers work hand-in-hand creating technological highlights where not only the high-performance BMW M sports cars benefited but the whole BMW cars program. As such, BMW M is also a synonym for BMW innovation.

Some of the notable innovations encompass:
Lightweight bumpers
SMG Drivelogic
M high-rev concept
Four-valve technology
M double-Vanos
Variable M differential lock
M compound brake system

Current BMW high-performance M models are:
M3 coupe
M3 convertible

At the top end of the range are the BMW M6 and BMW M5, both powered by a V-10 engine developing 500bhp @ 7,750rpm and 520Nm @ 6,100rpm. It’s a brand new motor made by BMW M division, rather than a bored-out 4.8 liter engine in the BMW 650i. This magnificent F1-inspired engine drives through a superb seven-speed sequential gearbox (SMG).

The world is now eagerly awaiting the new V8-powered M3 capable of pushing out a phenomenal 415bhp.

M Division aftermarket parts are also found standard in some markets, to upgrade the sporty appeal as well as performance of the mainstream 1, 3 and 5 series. These are sometimes known as M-Sport models, not necessarily carrying an ‘M’ emblem but have M-sport suspension, M-alloys, M-bodykit and other M-accessories. In the local scene, these are being marketed by BMW Malaysia as the 325i Sports and the 525i M-Sport.

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