While in Detroit covering the launch of 3 new M models, we took the opportunity to sit down with Carsten Pries from BMW’s M division to get a better sense of what has gone into the development of this new generation of M cars. Some of what we found might surprise you and may have you looking for a raise at work to put down your deposit on a new car.
A Focus on Weight Savings - What You Can See and What You Can't
The critics have been hard on BMW for some time about the increased size of their cars and the corresponding bloat in weight. The tides have turned with the generation and this car is our first taste of things to come in the future. The M division has refocused their efforts and set out designing this generation's M4 to match the weight of the E46 M3. They did one better and actually came in just underneath their goal. A big portion of the weight savings comes from the extensive use of carbon fiber (drive shaft, roof, trunk lid on the M4, etc) but it goes beyond that with weight savings being found throughout the design and production process.
Electromechanical Power Steering Better Than Hydraulic?
This is the most exciting news to come from our interview. Surprised? You should be. And you probably should be skeptical until driving reviews come in but what we learned gets us excited. This is NOT the EPS that you have driven in other BMWs in the slightest. This is M's version of EPS. New hardware, new software, new everything.
|I think probably one of the misunderstandings is...if you have to adapt something that is there and try what you can get out of it. Then you may be limited in your possibilities but if you consider something right from the very first moment and make it an integral part of the overall system including the steering gear box, all the components play together perfectly. For us, precision is extremely important.|
The New M3/M4 was a True Team Effort from Designers, Engineers and Even Financing
The M3 and M4 are very important cars to BMW and their brand and it seems like the M division was well aware they needed to bring their A game. This meant everyone had to get to work. One area that was pointed out was that even financing and purchasing played a significant role with a lower production car.
|For me, these two cars clearly show how much every single body in every area including areas like finance or purchasing. As you can imagine, as you talk about comparatively low production volume, it requires a big effort to negotiate things with your suppliers to get these masterpieces in small quantities at a reasonable price. But at the end of the day we didn't want to go way up through the sky for the price for the customer. We wanted to keep it within certain limits and this requires efforts in all areas.|
Why should you trade in your current M3 and buy a new one?
Yes, we asked the loaded question of why someone should buy the new M3/M4 and there were a lot of answers but one quote really stuck out to us. It made us feel good about wha the M division is focusing on and we hope it puts your mind at ease some too.
|Its the next step in evolution. Especially if you are keen on this power to weight philosophy. If you want to have a very light car that can do things that the already dynamic and powerful previous generation M3 couldn't. Once you get into it, you will immediately realize this is the next step.|
The final and possibly best quote of the interview came from another BMW representative that joined our discussion and he will remain anonymous. If this doesn't get you excited, I'm not sure what will.
|I don't feel like I'm at risk of over promising when I tell you that no one is ready for this engine. I wasn't prepared. The engine is an animal. The engine has shocking capabilities.|
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