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    BMW M5
    Engines like the one shoehorned into the M5 need to be savoured while they are still around – even if your neighbours don’t think it’s all that cool…

    Date acquired March 2018
    Total mileage 12,418
    Mileage this month 3246
    Costs this month £0
    mpg this month 23.9

    / #2018-BMW-M5-F90 / #BMW-M5-F90 / #BMW-M5 / #BMW / #2018 / #BMW-F90 / #BMW-5-Series / #BMW-5-Series-M5 / #BMW-5-Series-M5-F90 / #BMW-5-Series-F90 /

    It’s to be expected that the 4.4-litre, twin-turbo #V8 lurking behind the M5’s kidney grille is going to generate levels of heat normally associated with my living room when someone ignites the fire and forgets to turn the central heating down. What I didn’t expect was how much cooling it requires post engine shutdown, no matter what the length of journey. Nor how much noise is generated in the process.

    In the early hours, after a late-night run back from evo HQ , the M5 can get a bit of a pant on and doesn’t hold back on the decibels (around 88), and it can be a good five to seven minutes before it’s sufficiently cooled. Only Mercedes’ new AMG G63 has annoyed the neighbours with more of the same and for longer.

    Lift the M5’s aluminium bonnet and it’s clear why those eight cylinders can get a little hot under the collar. Most modern engines look larger than a Spitfire’s Merlin when dressed with the de facto moulded plastic cover, but remove the M-branded hat from the S63 motor and there’s barely a millimetre to spare. As a piece of packaging it’s quiet remarkable, although I can’t imagine the independent specialists who will be working on it in a decade’s time thinking the same.

    Despite its antics after every run the F90’s V8, like those found in AMG’s hotrods, is a mighty piece of engineering to control. It doesn’t have the theatrics of the Affalterbach power units in terms of vocal support every time the crank rotates, but its performance is on a par and it’s every bit as exciting when you let it off the leash. Yet despite being based on the motor fitted to its F10 predecessor, the considerable changes #BMW-M has made have turned a potent yet anodyne engine into a characterful and deeply layered V8. And while its downsized and electrified replacement will blow our minds in terms of technology, I’m worried it won’t tug at our heartstrings like this one does. Truth be told, I already know it won’t.

    Which means we should enjoy cars such as the M5 while we can. One day we’ll need to dig deep on these memories of driving a car with supercar performance, sports car agility and family practicality as we’re transported everywhere in an electric pod.
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    CLEAN BANDIT Styled and tuned F82 M4. SLICK M4 F82 with power and poise. Passion brought forth the assassin… Keren Zeng’s ingrained love for the BMW brand has helped him deliver a killer blow with this M4. Flawless victory! Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Kevin Uy.

    Assassins come in many forms. Followers of classic Japanese folklore will be familiar with the concept of the ninja or shinobi, whose function was to act as a covert spy and saboteur. Fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series will know the assassins to be as gentlemanly and respected as they are deadly, fusing the cloaked secrecy of the ninja with the necessity to always leave their victims with a receipt.

    And, of course, there’s the ragtag group of misfit assassins that this BMW M4 falls into; rubbing shoulders with James Bond and Liam Neeson, it’s the sort of character that’ll kick your door in, carry out the lethal task in broad daylight, utter a witty quip, shoot the cuffs on their impeccably tailored suit, and effect their graceful egress. Possibly leaping off a ledge and onto a plane or something.

    This car could never be a shinobi. Look at it, it’s bright orange. But it does neatly intertwine the twin cannons of flawlessly sharp aesthetics and brutal firepower; a sublimely crafted art piece packing a horsepower figure that begins with a five. It’s primarily a functional thing, as evidenced by its gait being hunkered aggressively down rather than stylistically stanced, with the tyres displaying a usefully chunky spread of sidewall. But at the same time, its looks and sense of purpose are razor-edged. This is not a thing to be messed with, unless you’re planning on that being the last thing you ever do.

    This creation is the vision-made-real of one Keren Zeng, proprietor of an automotive aftermarket shop in Victoria B.C, Canada, and lifelong BMW-fancier. “When I was in seventh grade I saw the E46 M3 on the cover of Need for Speed 9 for the first time, and I immediately fell in love with that car,” he says.

    “Since then my dream machines have always been #BMW-M cars. And when the M4 came out, I placed an order without hesitation!” This long-held obsession is more than a videogame-induced fantasy, however. The passion runs somewhat deeper than that. “Owning a #BMW in my home country back when I was growing up was very, very hard,” he explains. “Not just because of the price, but also the limited availability. I loved to memorise all the car brands when I was little, and my father bought me all kinds of toy cars and asked me what models they were. I remember my favourite was the BMW 8 Series, which was a birthday gift from my father. And I was lucky enough to experience BMWs when I was a little older; at the age of 17 I drove my friend’s E92 M3, and I was totally blown away by the handling, the sound and the performance of the car. And from that time, BMW M cars have planted a very deep root in my heart.”

    You see, this is no cynical tale of somebody throwing a bunch of money at an on-trend motor to win Instagram points, this is the culmination of a lifetime of aspirations and yearning. When Keren came to open up his Canadian business, the time was right to dive into the fragrantly alluring waters of M car ownership. Well, almost… he had a little practice with a 435i first.

    “In 2013 in Montreal, I first saw a 435i in real life,” he breathlessly recalls. “I spied it at the downtown parking lot and the colour was Mineral grey – it immediately caught my attention; the shape of the car, the M badge just up the side vent, and the aggressive face. I told myself that one day I would own a car like this. And later that year, my dream came true.”

    Neat use of ‘one day’ there, this is clearly a guy who likes to get things done with no time to shilly-shally. An Estoril blue example was bought, and duly subjected to KW coilovers, Vorsteiner wheels, Akrapovič exhaust, a feisty remap, and all the aero stuff in the M Performance catalogue. With this makeover successfully dealt with, Keren felt it was time to join the big leagues and really make that dream a reality. His name was inked on a shiny new M4’s pink slip, and the planets obligingly aligned.

    “I had a pretty clear plan for the M4 from day one, based on what I’d learned from the 435i,” he explains, which makes perfect sense really. Combining age-old dreaming with first-hand experience tends to forge strong mental images. “My first set of wheels were BBS CI-Rs, powdercoated satin black. However, after having them for half a year I decided to go with HRE for its Forged series, choosing the Classic 300 – I respect classic cars and wanted to combine the retro with the modern, although in order to do so you can’t just put a classic rim on a new car, the colour choice has to be very careful. So I went with Dark Brushed Clear for the outer lip and barrel, and Satin Bronze for the face, both of which match perfectly with the Sakhir orange paint.”

    In order to get the car sitting lower over these broad, chunky rims, Keren opted for Swift springs to work with the stock M4 dampers, keeping in mind that the car’s a daily driver and the factory chassis setup is already pretty mind-blowing. A set of Fall- Line Motorsports anti-roll bars found their way into the mix with the aim of making the car “track ready” (Keren’s words; he’s not playing games here), while the engine inhales and exhales a lot more freely thanks to an Eventuri cold air intake and full Akrapovič exhaust system, all remapped to make the most of those bonus horses. ETG’s clever ones-and-zeroes tuning is marketed as offering gains of 89hp and 96lb ft of torque over stock, which is certainly not to be sniffed at, and it also offers a bunch of boltons such as a speed limiter removal, transmission software and traction control reflashing, and even throttle-blipping and overrun exhaust popping. As you might imagine, Keren was pretty liberal with the box-ticking that day.

    “I love clean cars, so when I choose the style of my car, I always believe that less is more,” he explains. “In order to match the body colour and details, all of my exterior pieces are carbon fibre. And the same goes for the interior – the carbon fibre upgrades are there to enhance the spirit of the M Performance brand rather than try to turn it into something else.” In addition to this OEM+ approach, there’s also been a fairly substantial input from iND, whose comprehensive range of aftermarket add-ons has been raided to yield such trophies as black kidney grilles, black boot badges, painted front reflectors to eliminate the garishness of the factory items, and painted side markers in the same vein. The overarching principle here is to hone and refine the cohesiveness of BMW’s own design and the M division’s enhancements to it; think of this car as being the next little step down the M4’s evolutionary path. “My favourite modifications are the wheels and the exhaust,” Keren continues.

    “The way the HREs look and the way the Akrapovič sounds are just total eye and ear candies, it transforms the M4.” And all the while, as he gazes fondly over his creation, you can hear his brain ticking away, formulating new schemes and stratagems. It’s not finished, of course: “The orange turns so many heads, people are always taking photos of it,” he ponders. “I’m considering wrapping it in camo for the show season…”

    Well, that’d certainly help the M4 to fulfil its destiny as a stealthy assassin. A sneakily applied camo would help it slither under the radar and carry out its evil deeds. As long as Keren doesn’t have the engine running, naturally – all that popping and crackling is a bit of a giveaway.

    DATA FILE #BMW-F82 / #BMW-M4 / #BMW-M4-F82 / #BMW-M4-Akrapovic / #BMW-M4-M-DCT / #BMW-M4-M-DCT-F82 / #BMW-4-Series / #BMW-4-Series-F82 / #HRE-Classic / #HRE / #2017 / #Akrapovic

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six S55B30 / , #Akrapovič exhaust system, #ETG remap, #Eventuri intake, seven-speed M-DCT gearbox

    CHASSIS 9.5x20” (front) and 10.5x20” (rear) #HRE-Classic-300 , 255/30 (f) and 285/30 (r) Michelin Pilot Sport, #Fall-Line-Motorsports front and rear anti-roll bars, Swift springs

    EXTERIOR Sakhir orange, #M-Performance rear spoiler, #RKP front lip, Kohlenstoff rear diffuser, #iND front painted reflectors, iND black grilles, iND painted trunk emblem, iND painted side markers

    INTERIOR M Performance Alcantara steering wheel, #DCT console trim and DCT gear knob cover

    THANKS Kevin King Uy for the photoshoot, Cat from iND for all the modifications, Kelvin from #ETG-Tuning-Group , #HRE , #Akrapovi , #BMW-Victoria , #KZ-Auto-Group
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    One of the most important engineers in the history of the #BMW-Group , #Paul-Rosche , died in November, at his home in Munich, aged 82. “We are all very saddened by this news,” said BMW Motorsport Director, Jens Marquardt. “Paul Rosche not only represented and characterised the company and the BMW brand with his passion, his vision, and his immense technical expertise over many decades in action on the race track. The results of his work – no matter in which car or in which series – were frequently milestones of engineering skill. The loss of Paul Rosche is a loss of an outstanding personality for BMW Motorsport and #BMW-M . He constantly redefined the limits of what was technically possible. We will preserve this spirit at #BMW-Motorsport . Our deepest sympathies go to his family and friends.”

    Camshaft calculations for sports engines were always Paul Rosche’s favourite area of work, which is why he was given the nickname ‘camshaft Paul’. In 1957, straight after completing his degree, he joined BMW and, over the course of his 42 years as an employee, he guided the company into F1 twice. Before joining BMW Motorsport GmbH in 1975 as head of the design of the BMW M1 production and racing engines, Rosche was involved in the R&D department, under the charge of Alexander von Falkenhausen. In 1969 he designed the 2.0-litre turbo engine with which #BMW won the European Touring Car Championship.

    In 1980, Rosche, as Technical Managing Director of BMW Motorsport GmbH, along with Dieter Stappert, laid the foundation for BMW’s first F1 involvement and, as head of the engine project, was also a key factor for the success of the BMW engines in the turbo era.

    Rosche and his team turned a four-cylinder production engine (the M10) displacing just 1.5-litres into a potential world championship winner. Sixteen valves, a turbocharger, and – in a first for #F1 – digital motor electronics all helped the engine to post an initial output of around 800hp. The Brabham BMW made its grid debut at the start of the 1982 season; just 630 days later Nelson Piquet scooped the world championship. By 1987 the turbo unit had nine grand prix wins under its belt and its potential seemed almost inexhaustible. When asked about the F1 engine’s maximum power output, Rosche once replied in his inimitable, irresistible manner: “It must have been around 1400hp; we don’t know for sure because the dyno didn’t go beyond 1280hp!”

    The triumph in F1 was the most spectacular success but it was far from being the only one. Other power units that came out of Rosche’s fold were the large 2.0-litre, four-valve, four-cylinder engine which racked up more than 150 race wins and six titles in the Formula 2 European Championship, as well as the 6.0-litre V12 engine that won the Le Mans race in 1995 and 1999. Rosche’s term of office also witnessed the development of the S14 engine for the first-generation E30 M3, which was to become the most successful touring car of all time.

    Following BMW’s retirement from F1 in 1987 Rosche continued as Technical Managing Director of BMW M GmbH until 1996. Subsequently, as Technical Director and Managing Director of BMW Motorsport Limited, he led BMW into F1 as an engine manufacturer for a second time and while F1 championships didn’t follow, the BMW engine was always acknowledged to be one of the best on the grid. In 1999, Rosche entered retirement, although he retained strong links with BMW and assisted in projects such as the recommissioning of the Brabham F1-winning machine.
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    DRINKING THE KOOL-AID 530hp #Sakhir-orange F80 M3

    It’s easy to go with the flow, isn’t it? Wheels, suspension, then hit the show scene. But for Sam Herz, it’s not quite that simple. He deliberately chose a controversial colour for his new M3 and everything just spiralled from there… Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Courtney Cutchen.

    F80 M3 530hp Sakhir orange Saloon

    Deep in the deserts of western Bahrain lies the Al-Sakhir Palace – a bold and imposing white colossus, brimming with Frenchinspired bastiles, faux-medieval crenellations, and more pillars than you can shake a gold bar at. Built in the late nineteenth century, it’s a place of serenity; it lay abandoned for decades after Sheikh Hamad died in 1942, and even since its renovation in the mid-1990s it’s remained a place of peaceful retreat…

    …Well, until 2004, that is. That’s the year the Bahrain International Circuit opened just down the road, and ever since there’s been a perennial soundtrack of redlining race motors accompanied by the ever-present whiff of race fuel. What price tradition, eh?

    And it’s after this effervescent turn of events that BMW has named one of the more vibrant colours on its palette in recent years: Sakhir orange. This, basically, is a colour for people who don’t muck about.

    The unimaginative masses may choose to spec their new cars in Resale red or Inoffensive silver, but there’s a hardcore of BMW fans who live for today, who couldn’t give a monkeys about residuals, who want their new purchase to be as in-your-face as it can be while still holding (perhaps tenuously) on to its warranty. Sam Herz is one such person. Just check out his outrageous F80 M3: it’s so hashtag just-ain’t care, it’s Sakhir orange on the outside and the inside.

    “It was a surprisingly difficult car to source in this colour scheme,” Sam laughs. We don’t doubt it – the ratio of serious enthusiasts to plastic posers who buy M3s is a figure the firm is naturally unable to provide, but we’re sure the former group is probably smaller, their whims taking the dealers somewhat by surprise sometimes. So let’s rewind to where all this began for Sam. It started, as you might imagine, with another BMW. “It really all stemmed from a poster of an E46 M3 that a friend gave me in high school,” he recalls, squinting slightly as he peers through a rose-tinted fug of ethereal mist. “I kept that picture on my wall throughout college as sort of a motivation – and, eventually, I got one!”

    You can insert your cliché about living out the American dream here, although the truth was that it was a bit of stretch; being a college student with an M3 meant that he naturally didn’t have a whole bunch of cash for modifications. But time marches inexorably onward, situations change as lifestyles evolve and nowadays the act of fettling hot BMWs offers Sam a rather soothing break from the go-go everyday of working in software, doing something we don’t totally understand with ones and zeroes. We think he might captain one of those ships in The Matrix. Whatever it is he does, he’s a smart cookie. That’s all you need to really know.

    “I have bad enough luck that I generally leave the big jobs to the shop,” Sam shrugs, “but I am looking forward to doing a little more of my own wrenching now that I have a garage.” Ah, splendid, he is human after all. Excellent. An excitable meatbag of aspiration, trepidation and enthusiasm, just like the rest of us. So, why an F80 M3, how did that all come about?

    “Well, as my E46 became more track focused, I needed a daily driver outside of my motorcycles,” Sam explains. “Previously I’d bought Performance Technic’s Dinanequipped 550i shop car – which gave me my first taste of the Dinan Kool-Aid! However, it was always kind of big and a bit ungainly. So I started looking for a slightly smaller, sportier sedan, preferably with a manual transmission, since I’d finally taught myself how to drive stick at the ripe age of 28. And after looking at basically everything in the segment, I landed on the F80. I’ve always liked the combination of the sporty and the practical that you get with the M3, and I find the new body quite striking. Also, after seeing Sakhir orange on an M5 I really, really wanted a car available in that colour!”

    This time around, Sam elected to purchase the car brand-new from a dealer, although his detailed and specific demands meant that this was very far from a case of merely ambling into a showroom, pointing at one of the cars and saying ‘yeah, that one please. Don’t wrap it, I’ll drive it home’. Not only did Sam insist on puzzling and slightly troubling the salesman by demanding an F80 that was both metallic Sakhir on the outside and stuffed with sumptuous Sakhir leather within, but he wanted Euro delivery, too. And if you don’t know what that is, here’s the principle in a nutshell: BMW USA offer a programme whereby customers get to meet their new car at the place it was built. Having flown themselves to Germany, they head over to BMW Welt where they’re put up in a swanky hotel, given a full factory tour, offered a variety of official ‘Driving Adventure’ packages, and then given the keys to their new motor and pointed toward the autobahn. When they’ve had their fill of mischief, BMW ship the car to the States to meet the new owner back at home. Brilliant idea, isn’t it?

    “When I first sat in the car at BMW Welt, it had less than a mile on the clock,” Sam beams. “I’d managed to swing things so that I could immediately take it on a grand tour of Europe, arriving at the Nürburgring with just 1203 miles racked up – just in time for that first oil change! Then there was a track day at Spa-Francorchamps a few days later, along with check-ins at both Audi factories, Ferrari, Pagani, you name it – I definitely put in the world’s slowest baby laps of every circuit but the car came home in one piece!”

    It’s an impressive tale of automotive swashbuckling but, of course, this has to be far more than a story of a man buying a new car and then driving it around. This isn’t that sort of magazine. Inevitably, Sam had plans to awesomify the F80 a little, both aesthetically and mechanically. “Actually, I didn’t at first,” he admits. “I sort of wanted to keep it stock-ish but then US customs somehow lost the car for about a month, and you know how it goes… I started getting ideas!”

    Having dipped his toe into the fragrant waters of Dinan with his old 550i, Sam was keen to replicate the engineering ethos of that car: proper, quality upgrades, geared as much for reliability as performance. If you do things cheap, you do them twice, and that’s not Sam’s way. This is why you’ll spot pretty much the entire Dinan catalogue in the spec list – the Dinantronics Performance Tuner Stage 2 hardware and software package combines with the firm’s carbon-fibre intake and an Akrapovič Evolution exhaust system to churn out a mighty 530hp. “I’ll be upgrading to Stage 3 soon, and adding a Dinan heat exchanger, too, at which point it’ll be closer to 550hp,” he explains casually. Man, he really did get into that Kool-Aid.

    “I fitted a lot of the genuine M Performance options, too, as I’ve been burned by the bad fitment of inferior parts a few too many times,” Sam continues. “And I also fitted a full self-healing clear bra so that I can actually drive the thing.” You know what he means here: optioning Sakhir orange is a brassy move, so you don’t want to then have the thing covered in stonechips and baked-on kamikaze insects. This outrageous paint job is the car’s key hook, and it’s for keeps.

    “The wheels were actually the hardest decision of the build,” Sam ponders, gazing fondly at them as if mentally validating his choice for the umpteenth time. “I was originally thinking of BBS LMs but they really don’t fit the lines of the F80. The HRE P40SC was in the running but it’s copied too often. But when IND Distribution showed off the first set of BBS FI-Rs, I knew that was the one!” The forthrightness of the rolling stock perfectly complements the bullish chassis, too. M3s are brutal in stock form but Sam’s sports Dinan coilovers, control arms and anti-roll bars, along with BMW’s own astonishing carbon-ceramic brake upgrade take it to the next level. Bit of a track warrior now, then? Something to show his E46 a thing or two? “Nah, it’s the daily,” Sam smiles. “This is California, so that means commuting to work and back; I just drove it to Seattle to see my parents. I took it to the last IMSA race at Laguna Seca. I even used it to carry all my stuff when I moved house. It’s a great car. I take it everywhere. And I often get thumbs-ups from other drivers and people coming over to talk about it at gas stations – I think it’s the orange…”

    Yep, we’d say that was a pretty safe bet. There’s opulence and motorsport intent woven deep in that Sakhir DNA, and a car with that paint is noteworthy enough. But with the care and attention Sam’s expended choosing its upgrades, and his relentless eagerness to use it as the M division intended, that’s actually about as far from drinking the Kool-Aid as it’s possible to get.

    “The wheels were actually the hardest part of the build”

    Stunning 19” #BBS FI-R wheels suit the M3 so well; below, various carbon fibre exterior additions.

    “The engine has been upgraded with a Dinan carbon-fibre intake and #Dinantronics Stage 2 software, which take power up to a mighty 530hp”

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F80 / #S55 / #2016 / #BBS-FI / #BBS / #BMW-M3-Dinan / #BMW-M3-Dinan-F80 /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.0-litre twin-turbo straightsix #S55B30 / #S55 / #BMW-S55 /, Dinantronics Stage 2 hard/software, #Dinan carbon-fibre intake, #Akrapovič-Evolution catback exhaust system, approx. 530hp, six-speed manual transmission

    CHASSIS 9.5x19” (f) and 10.5x19” (r) #BBS-FI-R wheels in platinum silver, 275/30 (f) and 295/30 (r) Yokohama Advan AD08R tyres, Dinan coilovers, antiroll bars and rear control arms, #BMW-M carbon ceramic brakes with sixpiston calipers and 414mm discs (f) and four-piston calipers and 380mm discs (r)

    EXTERIOR Sakhir orange metallic, Suntek clear bra (including roof and carbon-fibre trim), M Performance carbon fibre accessories

    INTERIOR Full Sakhir orange leather, #BMW-M-Performance steering wheel, M Performance gear knob, M Performance handbrake, super-cool floor mats

    THANKS Dinan Engineering, Jim Bustos at MMI Vehicle Systems, Brionne Go of Go Wraps, Chuck Thomas, Nick Owen and Brandon Watson at BMW of El Cajon, RC Levell
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    30 Jahre M3 debuts at #Nurburgring / #BMW-M3-F80 / #BMW-M3 / #BMW / #BMW-M3-30-Jahre / #BMW-M3-30-Jahre-Edition / #BMW-M3-30-Jahre-Edition-F80 / #BMW / #2016

    To honour 30 years of #BMW-M3 production #BMW-M revealed a new 30 Jahre model at the ‘M Night’ on the evening before the Nürburgring 24-hour race. It will be limited to just 500 units worldwide and the UK market will receive just 30 cars, all built to a unique-to-the-UK spec. While the rest of the world will receive their 30 Jahre M3s in the iconic Macau blue (originally available as an option on the E30 M3), UK market cars will come in Individual Frozen silver with contrasting exclusive full leather Merino trim in bicolour Black/Fjord blue with colour-matching contrast seams.

    The 30 Jahre M3 will be based on the 450hp M3 Competition model and features that car’s revised adaptive dampers as well as its 20-inch Style 666M alloy wheels, too. Externally you’ll be able to spot the 30 Jahre by its Individual High Gloss Shadow Line trim with black chrome tailpipe trims for the M sports exhaust system as well as a variety of carbon fibre additions, including a carbon fibre front splitter, mirror caps, rear diffuser and a carbon fibre rear spoiler. This edition model also features exclusively designed M gills in the front wings bearing the logo ‘M3 30 Jahre’.

    Inside you get the Comp pack special seats and seat belts with M Tricolour striping along with an M Performance Alcantara Steering wheel and an M Performance Alcantara Gear Selector trim and surround. The ‘M3 30 Jahre’ logo also appears on the door sill trims, the carbon fibre dash trim and it’s also stitched into the front headrests, too.

    UK-spec cars will be fully-kitted-out with Harman/Kardon surround sound, Adaptive LED headlights, M Carbon Ceramic Brakes, Head-up Display, M DCT transmission, Comfort Access, Surround View, Advanced Parking Pack, Extended Storage and a Speed Limit Display. Priced at £82,675 OTR, the M3 30 Jahre Edition goes on sale in summer 2016, exactly 30 years after the original E30 M3 was first available.
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    The E36 M3 GT Imola Individual is a rare beast and modified examples, like this slick machine, are rarer still. The E36 is fast becoming the appreciating #BMW classic of the moment, and you’ll struggle to find one finer than Mikey Townsend’s M3 GT Imola Individual. Words: Ben Koflach. Photos: Scott Paterson.

    Things at the upper end of the E36 market have seen a sea of change in the last few years. After some time spent as perhaps the least desirable models of the 3 Series range, they’re now on the up in terms of resale values – for a good one at least. And the most desirable of all the models? The ultra-rare M3 Evolution Imola Individual.

    With just 50 examples produced for the UK (and only a further 200 for the entirety of mainland Europe), the M3 GT II, often labelled the GT2, was a final hurrah for the E36. It built on the legend that had been forged with the M3 GT. However, rather than being based on the 3.0-litre M3 and being coloured British Racing green, the GT II used the 3.2-litre six-speed M3 Evo as a base and came in stunning Imola red.

    M3 GT Class II front corner splitters and a rear wing to match, an interior combination of Imola red Nappa leather and anthracite Alcantara and plenty of the usual options boxes ticked as standard made the GT II special. Mikey Townsend was lucky enough to pick this one up at the beginning of last year and proceeded to put his own stamp on the ultra-rare M3.

    Mikey’s far from a stranger to BMWs. As an ex-paratrooper stationed in Germany for a number of years he was lucky enough to have an E30 M3 as his first one, bought for just DM6500 – less than £3000. “If only I knew what I had back then!” laughed the 32-year-old. “I’d have put it away in storage instead of driving it like a loon everywhere.” Sure enough, by the age of 18 Mikey was an ex-E30 M3 owner, having written it off, but he was hooked on BMWs from then on. An E46 M3 followed later, with an E36 M3 Coupé and a Convertible spliced with countless non-M Three and Five series models – you name it, Mikey’s probably had one. However, his latest purchase is the most special of them all.

    “My brother has an M3 GT II, number 16, which he got in 2007, and I’ve wanted one ever since he got it,” Mikey told us. “It was inevitable that I would end up with one, it was just a matter of when. Then this one popped up and was only half-an-hour from me, so I had to take a look.”

    What Mikey had before him was M3 GT Imola Individual, number 48 of 50. It was an immaculate, carefully restored piece of Bavarian history which had been given a select range of modifications to boot including KW V3 coilovers and a number of small touches. Along with those it came with all of the original parts so that it could be restored to its rare original guise if required.

    “I’ve been choosy as to what I do with it,” Mikey explained. “That’s why I’ve only really gone for Schnitzer styling and the best replacement parts available. Everything I’ve done is totally reversible as I’ve got all of the original parts in the garage. Everyone says: ‘you can’t modify it, it’s too rare!’ Well, tell me it doesn’t look good!”

    When he bought the car it was sitting on three-piece Hartge wheels. These were not purchased as part of the deal and so the first thing Mikey did was get the standard wheels refurbished to a better-than-new condition before bolting them up to the car and rolling it home. Once the wheels were on and shod in brand-new Michelins, Mikey got the car home and didn’t hang about with his plans to get it looking the way he wanted.

    “The body had already been recently resprayed and fully rust treated and Waxoyl’d underneath, so everything I got for it had to be mint. This meant new or completely refurbished parts throughout,” Mikey explained. His private plate was purchased and transferred onto the M3, while a Storm Motorwerks weighted gear knob was fitted alongside the previous owner’s addition of Amaretta Anthracite Alcantara gaiters.

    Another upgrade for the interior was a selection of genuine BMW Motorsport International door sill trims and a matching carbon fibre glovebox trim. The badge on the back of the rear wing was also swapped for one that Mikey had made by Taylor Made Decals, denoting the car’s 48/50 production number.

    Mikey’s next trip out in the car was to go and get a special little something for under the bonnet, as he explains: “I took her for a blast over to Luton to see Bilal and Imran at Evolve. I had been speaking to Bilal for a while about an Eventuri intake for the E36 but he said that there hadn’t been enough interest in them to warrant producing them.

    However, he said to bring the car down for them to have a look at anyway. No sooner had I got there and spoken to Bilal was the car in the workshop, with the old air box being stripped off and measurements being taken for a custom kit. Dyno runs were done before and after, both with standard mapping. It was hitting 306/307hp as standard but with the Eventuri it was hitting at least 315hp on each run with much stronger and consistent torque gains!

    Gaining an extra 10hp from the kit was really surprising and the sound it makes is awesome, especially on wide open throttle.”

    A neat touch is that Eventuris all feature a serial number, and Mikey managed to bag number 48 to match his car. It a little plaque on the carbon heat sheild and is just one example of the painstaking detail he goes to in his pursuit of perfection.

    Mikey’s next addition to the car was, again, to the engine bay in the form of a genuine AC Schnitzer carbon fibre strut brace. However, the carbon’s clear coat had aged badly and gone slightly yellow in places. Of course, that wasn’t good enough for Mikey’s GT II and so it was sent off to be carefully re-lacquered, with the engine cover being colour-coded at the same time – a neat touch.

    With the M3 looking and feeling better than ever, all that was left was for Mikey to put a couple more of his own touches on the exterior. This started with a set of anthracite M3 Contour wheels – mint, of course – and some AC Schnitzer Cup 2 wing mirrors.

    However, the biggest change was yet to come, as Mickey explains: “I stumbled across the current wheels by chance really. I was looking for something else but got chatting to this guy with an Estoril blue E36 M3 Evo. He sent me a few photos of it and said that he had these rims on it but wanted to go back to the originals. These wheels are my favourite. I’ve always loved them and have always said that if I could have any wheels on the E36 it would be them. He was after cash quick so I got them for £1000 with new tyres, too,” Mikey told us. “It was a case of being in the right place at the right time – literally three weeks before Gaydon BMW Festival last year, so it was all good!”

    With the AC Schnitzer theme that Mikey already had running throughout his GT, those final touches were the perfect additions. However, the only worry he now had was that it was all becoming a little too ACS-themed and might detract from just how special the GT is; not the worst problem to have, you might be think, but it was easily solved by simply swapping back to the original M3 mirrors, which has worked a treat.

    The final addition was an AC Schnitzer exhaust – another rare part, which makes the S50 a little more vocal and brings a welcome lift to the rear end. It was bolted up with Hack Engineering billet exhaust hangers, too. No stone has been left unturned with this M3.

    “Because of the size a few people were saying that the wheels would never fit – but that’s the beauty of having the KW V3s: I could get it stanced perfectly! With a few goes it was spot-on, with no rubbing,” concluded Mikey. With a thorough polish up and some fresh AC Schnitzer graphics for them, the wheels were the perfect addition to set the car off.

    Undoubtedly Mikey has more plans for the GT but you can rest assured that each and every addition will be as carefully considered as all of those so far. E36s are on the up, and with something as rare and as special as his GT Imola Individual it would be too easy to damage it with the wrong modifications. Premium parts, great taste and a respect for the rarity have culminated in one very special M3.

    DATA FILE #BMW-E36 / #BMW-M3-GT-Imola-Individual / #BMW-M3-GT-Imola-Individual-E36 / #BMW-M3-E36 / #BMW-M3-GT / #BMW-M3-GT-E36 / #BMW / #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-Type-1 / #BMW-Motorsport / #BMW-M /

    ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION 3.2-litre straight-six #S50B32 / #BMW-S50 / #S50 / , #Eventuri carbon fibre intake with build number matched to chassis number, #ARP con-rod bolts, colour-coded engine cover, AC Schnitzer exhaust, #Hack-Engineering billet exhaust mounts. Standard six-speed manual gearbox, #Rogue-Engineering gearbox mounts, braided clutch line, standard 3.23 final drive LSD

    CHASSIS 8.5x17” (front) and 10x17” (rear) #AC-Schnitzer-Type-1-Racing three-piece wheels with 215/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) Hankook V12 tyres, #KW-V3 coilovers, #AC-Schnitzer carbon fibre strut brace. Standard brakes with drilled and grooved discs front and rear, braided brake lines

    EXTERIOR Full respray in original Individual Imola red, Class II front spoiler removed, factory Class II rear spoiler, BMW Motorsport Individual side moulding badges, custom build number plaque

    INTERIOR Individual upholstery (including Imola red door inserts and seat centre sections, Amaretta Anthracite seat bolsters), Amaretta Anthracite-trimmed steering wheel with Imola stitching by Royal Steering wheels, extended Imola leather by Bespoke Leather, Storm Motorwerks gear knob, Storm Motorwerks cigarette lighter blank, AC Schnitzer alloy pedal set, AC Schnitzer door pins, BMW Motorsport International carbon fibre glovebox trim, BMW-Motorsport International door sill trims, Harman Kardon speakers

    THANKS Bilal and Imran at Eventuri, Jim at Vines, Steven at Taylor Made Decals, Ben at Hack Engineering, friends and family
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    Stunning, fully restored M1 #Procar

    Legends Never Die The amazing story behind an M1 Procar unearthed in Japan and fully restored in Australia.

    For 25 years, this stunning M1 Procar sat almost unused in Japan until a chance encounter saw it brought back to life. Words and photography: Chris Nicholls.

    It starts with a flash of silver in the blazing Queensland sunshine. At this distance you can’t make it out, but you can hear it: a low rumble in the background, slowly rising to a metallic tenor as that flash gets ever closer. Out of the final turn of Queensland Raceway it comes, now accompanied by an ever-building scream, dominated at that distance by the sound of six intake trumpets trying to suck all the air out of the atmosphere. Finally it flashes past in a crescendo of piston, valve and camshaft noise, the intake and exhaust combining with it all to sound like the trumpets of heaven. It’s a giddy feeling and, as you can see from the photos, we’re lucky enough to hear it even closer a few hours later…

    We were at Queensland Raceway to cover the first shakedown of the #Bowden-Collection M1 Procar, a stunning machine with a great history that was finally ‘finished’ a couple of weeks earlier after well over a year of restoration work, and was now ready to go racing. (Technically, it ran late last year at Sydney’s Retro Speedfest but that occasion revealed some gearbox troubles that took months to fix, and this was the car’s first outing in its fully completed form). A day earlier we were also at the #Bowden family’s property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, shooting several other amazing and rare BMW race cars that you’ll see here in these pages over the coming months, but this day was all about the M1.

    And as we mentioned, it’s quite the M1. Built back in May #1979 by none other than Ron Dennis’s Project 4 outfit, chassis number 1077 was initially destined for a Procar team but funding issues for the client meant Speed Star Wheels in Japan picked it up, placing its graphics over the beautiful silver-with-Mstripes livery and requesting it be delivered for the #1979-Suzuka-500 in August. It turned up in time, but only just, clearing customs the day before the event and, as a result, ran very little in practice. However, talent will out, and the M1 proved that by managing to win its class and get fourth outright in a 50-car field. The race also marked only the second time an M1 had raced outside of Procar (another entered Le Mans) and the first time any M1 had run in a non-Procar series.

    Far left: The engine in Bowden’s M1 is in fine fettle and feels like it’s still producing its 470hp Left: Gearbox issues during the car’s first test session necessitated a repair that took a long time due to the scarcity of parts.

    Piloted by the extremely talented Naoki Nagasaka and co-drivers Naohiro Fujita and Fumiyasu Satou, the M1 went on to win its class at the 1980 Mount Fuji 500km and 1000km races, and the Fuji 500-mile event, giving it the overall Japanese Endurance Championship win that year.

    In 1981, the car again proved its chops by winning its class in the Fuji 1000km before being sold to Team Auto Beaurex and painted in traditional white and M stripe livery. That paintwork didn’t last long, though, as later that year, the M1 was given full Group 5 bodywork to keep it competitive the following season.

    And competitive it was, winning its class at the Fuji 500km and both Suzuka and Fuji 1000km events, as well as the WEC Fuji six-hour, where it also finished fourth overall behind 962s and Martini Lancias. That gave the M1 its second Japanese Endurance Championship and leaves it as one of the most successful M1s ever made. It even nailed second outright against Vern Schuppan’s 962 in the 1983 All Japan 500km race, but was retired the following year, only brought out for the occasional promotional event in the subsequent 25 years.

    Fast forward to 2014, and the Bowden clan’s youngest son, Chris, was in Japan as part of his work for Ecurie Bowden, his rare car procurement, sales, restoration, maintenance and race support outfit. Initially there to pick up the last ever Schnitzer-built Group A E30 (which you’ll also see in a feature later this year), Bowden soon found the owner had quite a few other desirable cars in his collection, as he explains: “He had some amazing stuff – and still does.

    In the shed where the M3 sat was a genuine Rouse Group A RS500 and just adjacent to it was this BMW M1. It was in the Group 5 bodywork it last finished racing in, so it looked pretty wild, but the owner, Mr. Hashimoto, showed me the chassis number and I took some photos of it, just documenting what I was looking at. I sort of told him there and then that if he ever wanted to sell it, we’d love to be the new home for it. He explained to us that it was his baby and his favourite car and that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, but if ever did decide to sell it he’d think of us.”

    Having also negotiated the sale of the RS500, Bowden went home happy, but still lusting after the M1. Thankfully, luck would turn his way soon enough. “We put the two Group A cars back on the boat,” Bowden continues. “Once we got our hands on the RS500 we pulled it apart, put it all back together again and then went out historic racing in it. I thought it might be nice to send Mr. Hashimoto some pictures of the car out on the track with all the other Group A cars and showing how we’d tidied her up, accompanied by a nice message saying ‘thank you very much’. He was very excited to receive those and about a week after the first bunch of photos went out to him he came back to us saying ‘I want you to own the M1’. He was blown away by the historic race scene in Australia and by how we go about looking after the cars.”

    It’s worth noting at this point, for anyone wondering, that Japan sadly doesn’t have a historic touring car racing scene at all these days (outside of a few events for classic Japanese racers like Sunnys and Starlets), although it did in the past. It meant Mr. Hashimoto really didn’t have an outlet to use the cars, hence his desire to see them run, even if it was on another continent.

    Having bought the car the Bowdens then had to decide whether they should keep it in Group 5 spec or return it to Group 4. But here, again, serendipity decided things for them.

    “When we bought it, we didn’t know what the car looked like when it arrived in Japan in 1979,” explains Chris. “We knew it was a Group 4 car – a Procar – but what its paint scheme was, we weren’t too sure…

    Then a friend of mine had a magazine on #BMW race cars – Japanese ones – and in it was a little one-inch by one-inch photo of a silver Group 4 M1. I looked at it closer and saw that it had the ‘kanji’ script on it, and our car was the only M1 to race in Japan, so it hit me like a lightning bolt that it was our car. I couldn’t believe it. The paint scheme looked amazing, the perfect crossover between the German ‘Silver Arrows’ and BMW M colours with a bit of Japanese culture thrown in there. That was a pretty happy day.”

    It also ended the debate as to what to do with the car, so over the next 12 months, with Mr Hashimoto’s blessing, the Bowdens used their own in-house team to restore the M1 to its original glory. “It would have happened a little bit quicker, but there’s nothing on the shelf here that’s M1-related, so we had to source everything from overseas and that was the biggest hold-up,” says Bowden.

    It wasn’t just parts, either. Bowden says one of the biggest issues was the body conversion, which wasn’t as easy as he’d hoped. “We thought it’d be relatively straightforward because underneath the car was all Group 4 still. We thought it was just the bodywork that had been changed for the lighter and more aerodynamic Group 5 but there was a bit more mucking around than just that, with a few things such as the wiring and pick-up points for the body that they had changed.

    As a result, the Bowdens relied on the vastly experienced Swiss team owner and racer Christian Traber for help in terms of spares, information and so on. The end result, though, speaks for itself. Repainted in its original livery, with all the sponsor logos painstakingly signwritten by hand, as per the period. It’s a stunning example of the breed. But don’t think it’s been made ‘too’ clean, though. Bowden was careful to keep certain areas of patina to remind himself of its history. “That’s how I like my old race cars,” he says.

    It goes just as hard as it did when new, too. While an unusual issue with the seat prevented a proper shakedown prior to the Retro Speedfest (a hidden bolster was fitted under the original seat’s fabric to allow shorter Japanese drivers to feel comfortable, and only became evident when Bowden sat in it with a full suit and helmet on for the first time at the test), Bowden says experiencing it at Sydney, even with the gearbox issues, was a joy: “That was just awesome. It was a real eye-opener to the car’s grip, and you really come to understand quite quickly that it’s a purposebuilt race chassis. There are no real compromises to its performance levels. It’s got very minimal body roll and the braking is fantastic. I wouldn’t say it’s got oodles of power but it’s certainly got some push and you’ve got the glorious wail just hanging out the back with you the whole way around. It’s like getting chased by a pack of banshees. It’s pretty cool.”

    The great thing for car fans is that the car’s journey is not done yet, either. After a successful outing at the Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport in March, the Bowdens got a coveted invite to bring the car to the Monterey Motorsports Reunion in June, so any BMW Car readers heading to that event can see (and hear) it in action there. Having experienced this car in person twice now, we can assure you it will be worth the trip.

    “The paint scheme looked amazing, the perfect crossover between the German ‘Silver Arrows’ and #BMW-M colours with a bit of Japanese culture thrown in”

    “He was blown away by the historic race scene in Australia and by how we go about looking after the cars”

    TECHNICAL DATA BMW / #Bowden-M1-Procar / #BMW-M1-Procar / #BMW-M1 / #BMW-M1-Procar-E26 / #BMW-M1-E26 / #BMW-E26 / #BMW /

    ENGINE: 3453cc DOHC #M88/1 / #BMW-M88 / #M88 / straight-six, cast iron block, two-piece 24-valve alloy head, 11.2:1 compression ratio, #Bosch / #Kugelfischer-Injection-System mechanical injection, 470hp at 9000rpm and 288lb ft at 7000rpm
    GEARBOX: #ZF five-speed transaxle (longitudinally-mounted)
    CHASSIS: Square-section steel tube space frame with fibreglass body panels
    SUSPENSION: Double wishbones, coil springs, shock absorbers, anti-roll bars (front and rear)
    BRAKES: #ATE-Racing four-piston front callipers with 332x35mm two-piece discs (front) and two-piston callipers with 297x26mm two-piece discs (rear)
    WHEELS AND TYRES: 10x16-inch (front) and 12x16-inch (rear) #BBS centre lock mesh wheels with 290/625 (front) and 310/650 (rear) Dunlop Formula Racing slicks
    • M1 musings. Firstly let me apologise for the lateness of this message but your magazine does take sometime to appear in the newsagents here in AustralM1 musings. Firstly let me apologise for the lateness of this message but your magazine does take sometime to appear in the newsagents here in Australia. Your May 2016 issue featured a great article on the Philip Island Classic but unfortunately I believe it carried a couple of errors.

      Your correspondent Chris Nicholls stated that the Ecurie Bowden #BMW-M1-Procar was the only one in Australia and that its Philip Island outing was its first competitive outing. Technically he could be right on the first claim but that would be ignoring Mr Maurice Alexander’s magnificent #1980 M1 Coupé (one of the 399 road cars produced) that was on display at Melbourne’s Motorclassica in October 2015… see the attached photographs (kindly note its RHD status).

      However, I don’t think he’s is correct on his second claim as the Bowden M1 was at the Retro Speedfest at Sydney’s Motorsport Park in June 2015. I have attached a photograph of the car on the dummy grid prior to the running of the event. This is not to distract from either the article or the magazine but aren’t all #BMW owners conditioned for perfection?
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    • Thanks for getting in touch Colin, and you’re right, us BMW owners do strive for perfection! When Chris stated the Bowden car was the only one in AustThanks for getting in touch Colin, and you’re right, us BMW owners do strive for perfection! When Chris stated the Bowden car was the only one in Australia we think he was actually talking about the Procar version, but thanks for sending in the pictures of the road-going machine – a right-hand drive M1 is a real rarity.

      Secondly, while you are right that the Bowden M1 did appear at Retro Speedfest he didn’t really see this as being particularly competitive as a gearbox issue occurred that kept the car off the track for some time while it was being rebuilt. This is detailed in the June issue where there’s a full feature on the Bowden M1… hopefully that’s now hit the newsstands in Australia for you to peruse!
        More ...
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    Precious Metal. This year’s hottest property is going to be the M2 – the best M car that #BMW currently makes? Here’s how the entry-level #BMW-M car eclipses every other model in the line-up… Words: Shane O’ Donoghue. Photography: BMW.

    Forget what you know about the frisky BMW 1 Series M Coupé and forget everything we’ve ever said about the F80 M3 Saloon and F82 M4 Coupé. It’s true that the new M2 shares its wide-tracked, short wheelbase proportions with its predecessor and uses a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine too. It’s also true that the M3/M4’s rear axle, wheels and choice engine components have been drafted in to create the M2. But you need to put all that out of your head from the start, as it takes only a few minutes at the wheel to realise that this is a completely different proposition. One we think you’ll like. A lot.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Our first chance to clap eyes on the new M2 in daylight came just minutes before we got behind the wheel at the Laguna Seca race track in the States. A bright sun helped the aptly named Long Beach blue metallic paint sparkle, but even on a grey day in Slough we reckon the M2 will brighten things up. It manages that BMW M trick of looking unquestionably muscular without any glaringly obvious body add-ons. After all, we’re already fans of the M235i’s styling, but put this next to it and that car looks, well, weedy. The stunning 19-inch forged alloys set the tone, even if they result in a high-up looking car at times. They’re complemented by the expected quartet of suggestive tailpipes (dip into the M Performance Parts catalogue and you can enlarge these further, trim them in carbon and alter the sound using Bluetooth) at the rear, as part of the aerodynamic diffuser.

    While there you’ll notice the most obvious styling departure from the standard 2 Series Coupé, the significantly wider track. The rear wheels are some 80mm further apart in the M2 due to the use of the M3/M4’s axle and Active M differential, and the bodywork has been suitably stretched and remodelled to suit. The result is aggressive, brawny and downright appealing to anyone that has half an interest in cars. It gives the M2 Coupé a real squareset stance, which may allay fears some may have of all that power in such a short package.

    More hints at what lies beneath can be found up front, where a deep and sculpted bumper is as much air vent as it is plastic. The vertical slats on the extremities are what BMW calls Air Curtains and they form part of an extensive (though nearly invisible) aero package that reduces lift by a useful 35 per cent, while making the car more stable at high speed, yet BMW also quotes a five per cent reduction in drag.

    That’s in spite of the M2’s wider tyres and bigger need for cooling, as evidenced by those large air intakes in the front bumper. The M DCT cars feature an oil cooler fed by one of these vents, while all versions get an extra water cooler for the engine itself.

    And what a powerplant it is, sort of a mix between the N55 unit in the M235i and the S55 engine used in the M3/M4. Unsurprisingly, it’s a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder design, keeping the twin scroll, single-turbo induction of the N55, but it uses the S55’s pistons, high-performance spark plugs and crankshaft main bearing shells. The result is 370hp at 6500rpm (just 500rpm shy of the rather smooth rev limiter) and a useful 343lb ft of torque. Not only does the latter come on stream from 1400rpm and hang around until 5560rpm, it actually spikes to 369lb ft during ECU-regulated ‘overboost’ periods. In reality, on cut-and-thrust British B-roads, at any time other than a heatwave, the likelihood is that the full beans will be at the driver’s disposal constantly. Even in the Californian heat we never managed to catch the engine out, even if, ultimately, it’s never as uncomfortably fast as the M3/M4 can be. Still, a 0-62mph time of 4.5 seconds isn’t to be sniffed at.

    That’s the official figure when the six-speed manual gearbox is fitted; the M DCT is 0.2 seconds faster. But this car is more about feedback and driving enjoyment than lap times and for that reason we’d recommend the manual transmission. It has a more satisfying and mechanical feeling change than the springy manual gearbox in the M3/M4 (but not bought by anyone), with small wrist movements only required to bolt through the gears. What’s more, the clutch is well-weighted, again without the springiness of BMW M cars past. Our only gripe with the manual option is that the only way to turn off the automatic rev-matching feature is to toggle the Driving Experience Control switch into Sport+. We suspect that most buyers that stick with a manual gearbox in a car like the M2 would like to partake in some heel and toeing. Saying that, if you blip the throttle yourself on the down-shift before the electronics do, it leaves you to it, so it’s well-programmed at least.

    Those familiar with BMW M’s seven-speed dualclutch transmission (DCT) can expect more of the same here, but it’ll surprise anyone that hasn’t experienced it. In its softest setting, the car burbles along at low revs, conserving its fuel, while the gearbox smoothly changes up and down, making it a doddle to pootle through traffic or cruise along the motorway. But there are effectively six different modes taking into account automatic or manual operation and the three driving settings – Comfort, Sport and Sport+. At its most extreme, under full-bore acceleration, the transmission bangs in the next gear in a manner that’ll cause your passengers to wince and, at times, the rear tyres to chirrup. Back down through the gears it summons up evocative throttle blips too, which is certain to have owners changing up and down for no other reason.

    This is all augmented by the bespoke exhaust system with its electronically controlled flap system. It reverberates purposefully at idle and from the outside it sounds mean and aggressive at full throttle, but within it’s quite composed until you trouble the upper reaches of the rev counter – or you select one of the Sport driving modes. It’s so refined inside that BMW felt the need to pipe engine noise through the stereo system. Not that you’d notice, as it sounds real, though as much as we like the hard-edged blare, we can’t help but hanker after the melodic naturally aspirated units of old.

    The interior is a good place to be and all the usual M signifiers are present and correct. There aren’t many options so the standard specification is generous, including black Dakota leather sports seats with subtle blue stitching and the M logo embossed into the backrests. There’s electronic adjustment of the side bolsters for the front seats too, to cater for all shapes and sizes and hold you in place firmly.

    Tellingly, there’s also a new leather trimmed and bluestitched knee pad on the side of the centre console for the driver. In front is a tactile three-spoke leatherwrapped (stitched in the M colours) sports steering wheel that is smaller and more slender than that in the M3/M4. In the M DCT car there are sharp, nononsense gear change paddles behind this. All cars get an unusual open pore carbon fibre trim material throughout the cabin that’s rough and textured to the touch. But that’s the only sign of weight reduction, as the equipment count includes niceties such as Professional Navigation, dual-zone climate control and the Professional Media Package.

    Take a closer look at the centre console of the M2 and you’ll note the distinct lack of drive system settings buttons, as you’d normally see on all of the larger M cars. That’s because BMW M decided to keep the M2 simple. So there’s no adaptive damping, not even on the options list. Same for variable ratio steering and carbon ceramic brakes. Instead, the Driving Experience Control toggle button groups everything together, from the two-mode electric power steering to the throttle map and exhaust settings, plus the rear differential and, if fitted, the M DCT gearbox. Though the Sport+ setting, by default, switches the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system into M Dynamic Mode (MDM), the DSC’s three settings (on, MDM and off) can be chosen individually by the driver.

    In Comfort mode, the M2 is quite civilised, though never quiet, which we like. It’s as easy to drive as any other 2 Series, easier even thanks to the tractability of the engine. We’d only bother with that when on a long motorway cruise though, as things get more interesting in Sport and Sport+. The noise and response levels ramp up considerably and it’s difficult not to get carried away. On track, we were advised to use Sport+ and it does indeed seem ideal for smooth, fast lapping. The MDM setting allows enough slip at the rear axle to help with maintaining momentum out of the corners without the DSC cutting in at the merest hint of a slide. Once you’re au fait with the car, however, there’s no fear in switching off the DSC completely, in the dry at least, as there’s loads of traction to be found.

    Do that and you’ll uncover the true personality of this car, as it turns out to be a far friendlier and more forgiving chassis than the M3 and M4’s. With the space and freedom of a track at our disposal we were able to push beyond the limits of traction. Purely in the interests of research you understand… After six or so fast laps of Laguna Seca, it was clear that the Michelin road tyres were getting hot, but even so, the front axle remained completely true, tucking in the nose and precisely going where you want it to, with never a hint of understeer. And yet, there’s no scary unpredictable oversteer to deal with either. The M2’s natural stance is neutral and you can really feel the nigh-on 50:50 weight distribution and balance at work mid-corner, where the car is utterly stable.

    But it’s far from inert and it doesn’t take too much provocation to unstick the rear tyres’ purchase on the Tarmac and lock the rear differential. Despite the short wheelbase and quick initiation into a drift, the M2 is incredibly easy to hold a long power slide with the rear tyres smoking gratuitously for the camera. It’s much more controllable in this situation than its big brothers and the power delivery seems smoother too. Now, we know that few drivers can or want to drive in such a manner, but the experiment did reveal how approachable the M2 is.

    Performing in such a manner on a wide, smooth, warm race circuit is one thing, but the M2 needs to excel on tight and twisty B-roads for it to be a success in our eyes. And we found a good approximation of such a thing at the launch, though again it was warm and dry. Nonetheless, the M2 was astoundingly good on a 20-mile stretch of bucking, weaving and often bumpy American back road. It can be flung into tight corners with impunity, forgiving ham-fisted inputs, mid-corner adjustments and late braking nonchalantly.

    That’s not to say it does everything for you though; it’s just so composed, so planted and capable that it soaks up abuse and continues to put its power down and maintain its pace almost regardless of the state of the road. Its compact size and wide track undoubtedly help here. Sure, the fixed damping is firm, but we never found it particularly uncomfortable. It’s worth noting that, through all this, the driver is thoroughly engaged, with strong brakes, communicative and ultra-direct steering and the sense that the active diff is completely on your side at all times. You don’t even need to be troubling the speed limit to enjoy the M2. That’s perhaps one of the biggest differences between it and the M3/M4.

    Now, we accept that we came away from the M3/M4 launch wowed too and then when it arrived on wet and slippery British roads realised its limitations, so we’ll reserve final judgement on the M2 until it has proven its mettle in all conditions. But we have high hopes that this will be one of the most unforgettable new cars of the year.

    The M2 is pleasingly simple – no adaptive dampers or variable rate steering buttons to adorn the centre console – and the car’s all the better for it; the main decision potential owners face is whether to opt for the manual or #DCT gearbox.

    TECHNICAL DATA #BMW-F87 / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #2016 / #BMW-M2-M-DCT-F87 / #BMW-M2-M-DCT

    LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT: 4468/1854/1410mm
    WHEELBASE: 2693mm
    TRACK (FRONT/REAR): 1579/1601mm
    WEIGHT (EU): 1570kg (1595)
    ENGINE: Straight-six, twin-scroll turbo
    CAPACITY: 2979cc
    MAX POWER: 370hp at 6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 343lb ft @ 1400-5560rpm, 369lb ft on overboost from 1450-4750rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.5 seconds (4.3)
    50-75MPH (5TH GEAR): 4.4 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (168mph with M Driver’s Package – not available in UK)
    ECONOMY: 33.2mpg (35.8)
    C0² EMISSIONS: 199g/km (185)
    SUSPENSION: Aluminium double-joint spring strut with M-specific elastokinematics (front), aluminium five-link axle with M-specific elastokinematics (rear)
    BRAKES: Four-piston floating-callipers with 380mm vented discs (front), double-piston floating-callipers with 370mm vented discs (rear)
    STEERING: Electric Power Steering (EPS) with M-specific Servotronic function
    TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual (seven-speed M DCT optional), Active M differential
    WHEELS: 9x19-inch (front) and 10x19-inch (rear) Forged M double-spoke alloys
    TYRES: 245/35 ZR19 (front) and 265/35 ZR19 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport
    PRICE (OTR): £44,070
    Figures in brackets refer to seven-speed #M-DCT / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe

    From the outside it sounds mean and aggressive at full throttle, but within it’s quite composed
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