This past week we had the opportunity to sit down with Thomas Schemera (VP of Sales and Marketing for the BMW M Brand at BMW AG) and Matt Russell (M Brand Manager for the BMW of North America) to talk about the new M5/M6 and to see what kind of insight we might get into the upcoming F80 M3.
Starting with M5/M6 Questions
Bimmerfest: Was there one element or one part of the design of the new M6 that is especially exciting to you?
Thomas Schemera: The whole car. The whole concept. The M6, especially the coupe and convertible from my point of view; top notch. The best, most exclusive product in our M range that is for sure. In terms of aerodynamics, in terms of design, in terms of functionality, in terms of efficiency, in terms of power. This is our car and we are very proud of it.
Bimmerfest: Obviously the 30% increase in fuel economy is great. How have CAFE standards impacted the development of the M6?
Matt Russell: At M, we are less than 3% of the sales overall so it doesn't have a huge impact on CAFE. However, we share the same commitments at M for finding fuel efficiency and recovering energy wherever we can than we do in the entire brand. We are not building electric cars yet at M but we have M auto start/stop, brake energy regen, advanced aerodynamics, lightweight materials. A lot of these were pioneered at M so we use these technologies because the M driver is still a driver who drives to work everyday on the street and he still requires efficiency the same way he requires connectivity through infotainment and telematics.
Bimmerfest: So, that is how you look at efficient dymaics as more about a function to it?
Matt Russell: Yeah, its part of what makes M perfect. Its one more element that makes the M.
Thomas Schemera: We always talk about efficient dynamics but we need to compare our models (M5/M6) with the specific segment. you cannot compare the fuel consumption and carbon emmission of the M6 with a VW, it isn't fair.
Bimmerfest: The six speed manual option is certainly an emotional element of the car even with it being at a disadvantage performance wise with the DCT being able to be more efficient in switching gears; the M5 is confirmed as getting a 6 speed transmission...will the same treatment be coming to the M6?
Matt Russell: Consideration, yes. The M6 customer is a little different and we do not feel as though the demand is as strong from the M6 customer for a manual as is the case with the M5. If this changes, we say that the manual is under evaluation and possibly for the future but we are not launching the car with a manual. If you are a customer and believe this is important to you, start writing letters, tell your dealer to call us and make some noise. If we have sufficient numbers maybe M will send us the car in the future.
Thomas Schemera: We have it on the radar screen but from my point of view technically the DCT is the best of what you can get. But according to your requirements and to the customer requirements we need to stick to it...we take care of it. That's all we can tell you.
Bimmerfest: Is there a heritage behind the painting of the M Ceramic Brake calipers the gold color?
Matt Russell: Quick identification as far as I know.
Thomas Schemera: We discussed this issue many times. Is it gold? Is it yellow? Is it black? Then we decided for gold.
Bimmerfest: Another option question. Will the LED headlights be available on the M5 as well?
Matt Russell: Not immediately.
Bimmerfest: There is about a $16,000 price difference between the M5 and the M6 in the US. Can you give us some insight into the price difference and where that money is going to?
Matt Russell: Speaking for the US market, the M6 is the more rare car so it is going to cost us more money to create a smaller number of cars. Simple economies of scale. And of course CFK roof. While the M6 is usual the identical power train from the M5, it requires it's own tuning and development on the ring and everywhere else we tune it. Summer, winter, two years worth of it.
Thomas Schemera: We are also talking about a different class, completely different segment. It is like the 6 series versus the 5 series.
Bimmerfest: On a personal note, out of the 3 M cars (M5, M6 Coupe, M6 Convertible), which one would you personally want to drive?
Thomas Schemera: Let's talk about my company car. I have an M6 Convertible. I have modified this car a little bit. Black rims, exhaust system. It's a little bit crazy. There is no need to do something like that. I am a little bit crazy and little bit into racing. It is a Convertible and it is really well balanced...50-50.
Matt Russell: Yeah, it's a really tough question. Probably just the M5 sedan...it's spectacular. I have been lucky enough to drive it for a few thousand miles and I've never driven anything quite like it. It would be that or the M6 Coupe probably but I've always been a sedan person. I'm emotionally moved by the M6 Coupe so I can stare at it for a long, long time. It's the one I want to get in and drive but I want to live with the M5 sedan.
Time for Some M3 / M4 Questions
On a quick side note, both Thomas and Matt were quick to want to leave the table when we hit this section of questioning. We are guessing no one wants to be the guy that let's the cat out of the bag on what is coming for the M3 (or possibly M4 for that matter)
Bimmerfest: Are any of the advanced features on the M5/M6 going to trickle down the upcoming M3?
Thomas Schemera: For sure, the Active M Differential. This is of the essence to put the whole power of the car on the track and this is one along with 2 or 3 other things which are not on the current M5 and M6. There are a couple of surprises in the pipeline especially for you guys.
Matt Russell: That will have to be the end of the answer because I am not allowed to speak about that car yet. Only Thomas can talk about that car.
Bimmerfest: So, we should be excited?
Matt Russell: I can say yes to that.
Thomas Schemera: Talking about the weight. The weight is of the essence. We have two components, the power train and the chassis. The chassis must be lighter than before and this is what we have to achieve and what we are going to achieve. So you are going to have a light chassis -- lighter than before. And a very good power train.
Bimmerfest: Can we confirm End of Production for the E92 M3? Still looking at mid summer 2013?
Matt Russell: Yeah. Mid Summer-ish. Right now we are having some supplier caused shortages on the car and it makes people think the car is not available. These shortages will be solved this year and we will have plenty of cars later in the year but right now it feels like we don't have enough cars.
While we were not able to get more information on the next generation M3, we are pleasantly surprised to hear that there is a supreme focus on lightening the chassis to improve overall performance of the car. This combined with the Active M Differential that is currently in place for the M5/M6 gives us plenty of hope that the next generation M3 will be another step in the right direction for BMW enthusiasts.
Meanwhile, if you are in the market for a high revving TwinPower turbo V8 M5 or M6, you better get your call in to the dealer to lock in your place in line. We hear that demand is similar to the levels experienced with the launch of the 1 Series M Coupe which means it may be a hard car to find when it launches. Dealers can get orders into the system starting on April 23rd. You can take delivery of your M6 Convertible as early as June with the M5 and M6 Coupe arriving later in August. European Delivery begins September 1st.
We hope to have more details on the M5/M6 including some driving reviews in the coming weeks.
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