Zanardi goes for gold with BMW in 2014

There are many ways in which a top-level sportsperson becomes an inspiration - overcoming adversity is one of the top criteria.

The story of Alex Zanardi is surely one of our favourites - A former Formula One and CART (IndyCar) championship-winning driver, he lost both of his legs in a horrific crash in Garmany 13 years ago. And got straight back in the chair, modifying his race cars for hand controls in the era before e-gear and paddleshifters.

His history with BMW in this second era of his racing career is solid - driving for the German manufacturer in the European and World Touring Car Championships.

He also won two gold medals and a silver in the handcycling at the recent London Olympics.

And last year, BMW modified one of its M3 DTM race cars with hand controls for a test. He obviously aced it, as BMW has announced he will take on a factory position in the 2014 Blancpain Sprint Series in a modified BMW Z4 GT3.

Zanardi will certainly be the people’s favourite - it will be interesting to see his results.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: Alessandro Zanardi returns to the cockpit with BMW Motorsport – Starts for ROAL Motorsport in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series.
21.01.2014

Munich (DE), 21st January 2014. The legend is back: Alessandro Zanardi (IT) will be back in the cockpit on a regular basis in 2014, and will once again do battle for BMW Motorsport out on the racetrack. Zanardi will race in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series behind the wheel of a BMW Z4 GT3, which has been specially modified to meet his unique requirements and will be run by the ROAL Motorsport team.
The 47-year-old lost both legs in a serious crash while racing in 2001, but overcame his disability to return to motorsport. Among other things, Zanardi drove for BMW in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), where he stood on the top step of the podium on four occasions. Having won two gold medals on his handbike at the 2012 Paralympics in London (GB) and completed a test in the BMW M3 DTM in the same year, he is now set to contest a full season for BMW for the first time since 2009.

“Alex is back! I cannot express how delighted I am that one of the greatest heroes in the history of BMW Motorsport is returning to the cockpit of one of our racing cars,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “From both a human and a sporting aspect, Alex is a role model to all of us. I am sure he will approach this new challenge in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series in the same manner we have become accustomed to from him. You can really sense just how much he has missed competing on four wheels. Modifying the BMW Z4 GT3 is a challenge for our engineers. However, we gained valuable experience in this regard when we modified the BMW M3 DTM in 2012, and that will come in very useful now. As far as we are concerned, there is nothing preventing Alex from making a successful comeback.”

Zanardi himself can hardly wait to return to the motorsport scene: “Even after leaving the sport in 2009, I was still a racing driver at heart,” he said. “When I took to the track in the BMW M3 DTM at the end of 2012, I immediately got itchy fingers again. Ever since that moment I have been toying with the idea of returning to motor racing. Together with BMW we have looked at various options. I am even more pleased that it has worked out with my old friends at ROAL Motorsport. I would like to say a big thank you to BMW for this unique opportunity.”

Zanardi raced for the team belonging to former BMW DTM champion Roberto Ravaglia (IT) in the FIA European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) when he made his first comeback in 2003. Back then, a BMW 320i was adapted to suit his special needs – Zanardi accelerates using his hand. The 1997 and 1998 ChampCar Champion raced successfully in the WTCC from 2005 on, claiming four victories at Oschersleben (DE), Istanbul (TR) and Brno (CZ, two wins). Zanardi and ROAL Motorsport went their separate ways – for a while – at the end of the 2009 season.

“Alex and I have gone through so much together in motorsport. Therefore, I obviously did not hesitate when the opportunity arose to send him back into action for ROAL Motorsport in 2014,” said Ravaglia. “The sprints in the Blancpain GT Sprint Series are tailor-made for Alex. We will do everything in our power to give him a strong car, with which he can reproduce the performances and success we have seen from him in the past.”

The 2014 Blancpain GT Series season features both endurance and sprint races. Zanardi will drive one of the two ROAL Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3s in six of the seven sprint races, which each last one hour.

2014 Blancpain GT Sprint Series calendar.
21st April 2014 Nogaro (FR)
18th May 2014 Brands Hatch (GB)
6th July 2014 Zandvoort (NL)
24th August 2014 Bratislava (SK)
5th September 2014 Portimão (PT)
19th October 2014 Zolder (BE)
2nd November 2014 Baku (AZ)

M5 and M6 packs an extra punch

When is an M5 or M6 simply not enough?

Apparently, you cannot sate some people who want an even sharper tool, so BMW has introduced a Competition Pack on its M5 and M6 Coupe, and the M6 Convertible and Gran Coupe.

The rumors have circled for a month now, but today the packs have been confirmed as a power boost of 15 horses, taking the total power of the twin-turbo eight up to 575hp. The Convertible is no faster, but the rest of the range gains 0.1 on the 0-62 sprint, and 0.2 to 124mph.

BMW are claiming a stiffer and lower suspension setup helps its slip, lowering the ride height by 10mm and stiffening up anti-roll bars, rear bushes and springs, which are also complimented by revised damper rates (and a good thing in the 6 Series, which particularly in GranCoupe form can be a teeny bit lurchy on weight transfer).

The Competition Packs also sharpen up the M-diff and the steering rack, plus the hold-onto-your-hats M Dynamic Mode (halfway between full nanny and flying solo on the stability control mapping) has been relaxed to allow for a bit more frivolity.

Finally, a special set of black chrome tailpipes and 20-inch M alloys finish off the Pack. The pricing will be released in August.

OFFICIAL RELEASE:

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – May 18th 2013, 6:00pm Eastern Time . . . They are high-performance sports cars, each with an individual character and all sharing superior performance attributes with an incomparable driving experience. In the BMW M5 and the BMW M6 Coupe, BMW M6 Convertible and BMW M6 Gran Coupe models, race track technology is brought to the road. For generations, each model has joined race-bred chassis components and Olympic levels of power with linear control which can only be developed through years of laps around the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in the Eiffel Mountains. Now, on 2014 M5 and M6 models, BMW M GmbH will offer a new Competition Package as an option for the four most powerful automobiles in the BMW portfolio.

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Matte glitter pack for DTM triumph

After its returning season in the rather awesome DTM series landed it the triple crown of the driver’s title (Bruno Spengler), manufacturer title and team title, the German carmaker has released a celebratory limited-run M3 dubbed the DTM Champion Edition.

It apes the winning car with a bespoke Frozen Black paint job and matte black wheels, M Stripes running down its dorsal, extra carbon fibre trimming in the cabin, and door sills that replicate driver Spengler’s helmet design.

Just 54 will be produced from early next year, and the $130,000 price tag includes a spot in the BMW M Fascination Nordschleife driver training course at the ‘Ring. Unsurprisingly, it will be on sale in domestic markets only.

PRESS RELEASE: BMW M celebrates DTM triumph with BMW M3 DTM Champion Edition model.

Munich, Germany - December 5, 2012… BMW Motorsport returned to the DTM in 2012 after almost 20 years away, and the results in its comeback year exceeded all expectations. Canadian driver Bruno Spengler won the drivers’ title, BMW Team Schnitzer finished in top spot in the team standings, and BMW claimed the manufacturers’ honours.

BMW M GmbH is celebrating this success with the unveiling of the BMW M3 DTM Champion Edition.

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De Tomaso may be saved… By BMW?

The blokes with their ears to the ground in Europe are talking of the resurrection of De Tomaso, and by none other than the big German ‘bahnstormer, BMW.

According to Automotive News Europe, the Italian collective is in continuing discussions with different potential buyers with BMW at the forefront.

De Tomaso filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after failing to follow through with its bread-van sedan, dubbed Deauville (pictured below), which was revealed to many observers’ horror at the Geneva motor show, and therefore unable to build its next Pantera supercar with funds garnered from the Deauville’s sale.

BMW is still denying any interest in the niche automaker.

Driven: BMW 640i Gran Coupe

The 6 Series is a striking, if polarizing model, with a broad and flattened front end, wide stance, and sloping rear couple line.

Designed to take on the likes of Audi’s A7 and Merc’s CLS, the third model in the BMW 6 Series line-up, the Gran Coupe, is a four-door version of the the two-door Coupe and Convertible directly between the latter in price. It is very similar to the coupe, apart from a slightly higher back window, the two extra doors, of course, a brake light which stretches across the rear window, and its name worked into the rear window frame.

The 640i’s turbocharged 3.0-litre six churns out 320hp and 450Nm, which is sent to the back wheels via an 8-speed automatic. It’s a sublime powertrain, with full torque available from almost idle speeds at 1300rpm, and claims the 0-100m/h sprint in just 5.4secs. Shame the luxuries add up to a 1750kg kerb weight, which dulls its otherwise lively performance.

Four switchable chassis settings are the biggest contributor to said performance. Sport and Sport Plus modes loosen up the car’s shift patterns, steering and exhaust, with Sport Plus also relieving most of the nanny controls (TC and DSC).

The trade-off on the firmer sport settings is of course a less composed ride over broken asphalt. To counter this, the Gran Coupe also has a soft and squishy Comfort mode, which slacks off the the suspension, and makes the hydraulic power steering noticeably airy and light.

The fourth mode is an Eco driving setting, which coaches the steerer to better fuel economy while short shifting the gears and recharging the battery while coasting and braking.

It can be quite a dynamic drive depending on the chassis setting you select. The chassis itself is adjustable and honest, wanting to push at the front rather than step out at the rear in spirited driving. However, touring is pretty much where it’s at in such a car, and while BMW wax lyrical about the Gran Coupe’s sporting prowess, its soundtrack is a little on the luxury (read: quiet) side.

As a GT, it is superb, with an ergonomic and supportive driving position that any size will find comfortable, and every feature imaginable. But you have to like its polarising looks - and you must have at least $76,895 to spend…

DRIVEN: BMW 135i M Sport

It started as an entry level hatch back in 2006, but in its short life span the 1 Series has expanded well beyond its diminutive form into three bodystyles, countless variants and quite a price tag. More recently, a new range-topper has emerged - the 225kW 135i M Sport.

The lovely 3.0-litre inline six naturally develops more torque (than a V6) and develops 400Nm from as low as 1200rpm, keeping on this flat peak right through to 5000rpm thanks to twin-turbo power.

The manual is fun and feisty, but the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT) is a little to structured and rigid in doling out this power - one is a kid, the other the school master.

The 1 Series DCT is as precise in its intake as its output, sipping exactly the claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption of 8.5L/100km on test.

Neither are slow: for all its luxury weight (1455kg) it claims 62mph from standstill in 5.4 seconds.

But despite the wheel-mounted paddles, the Sport button that noticeably livens up throttle and shift response, and all that twist through a revised rear diff, the semi-auto DCT just doesn’t have the same interactive wow-factor as the manual.

The sporty range-topper is firm yet supple enough to inspire cornering confidence, without the sharp over-reaction to bumps and potholes that the base car suffers – a result of a finer rebound and bump setting in the dampers to compensate for lower, slightly firmer springs.

The car itself sits quite low in the wheel arch despite its big 18-inch rims, and the front bumper is quite close to the ground; the driver must be aware of sharp driveways and pull up short when parking nose-first, lest they scrape the splitter clean off.

It’s lovely to drive, and fun in the twisties, but loses something in its perfect, clinical execution. That said, it snaps your head off if you get even a little sideways - the short wheelbase twitchy and unforgiving if you’re timid at all with the gas pedal. An odd irony, really, given everything else is strictly Germanic and so utterly controlled.

Rolling atrocity: C3PO BMW

This is the parking lot at the Kazakh-British Technical University in Kazakhstan.

It costs anywhere from $3,500 to $7,000 USD a year to study at this technical college, which is a fair bit of money there.

In their carpark on any one day, you will find high-end, classy cars one would normally associate with privileged youth of the upper east side.

Then, there’s this. There are no words to describe it. Watch, and writhe.

Sportauto turns 8:15 Nurburging lap in BMW 1 M Coupe

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

The BMW 1 Series M Coupe is one of the more exciting new cars in the BMW lineup. With its chunky dimensions and 335-horsepower six, the littlest M recalls memories of the original E30 M3, a car that made the term “sports sedan” sexy. Well, the 1 M has finally made a timed run around the Nürburgring at the hands of Sportauto, and the results aren’t bad.

According to Sportauto, the rear-wheel drive, compact two-door ran a fast lap of 8:15 - a little less than a minute slower than the Corvette ZR1, but more pointedly, slightly ahead of the Audi TT RS and the Audi RS 3 Sportback, and more than 2 seconds faster than the Porsche Cayman S. Both of those rival Audis share the same 340-hp 2.5-liter turbo five-cylinder and all-wheel drive, while the Cayman S uses a 320-horsepower flat-six and rear-drive to get the job done.

BMW M cars to be boost-only after current generation BMW M3

BMW M3 Competition Package

BMW M3 Competition Package

The writing’s been on the wall for some time, but the fate of naturally aspirated M cars from BMW is all but sealed: forced induction is the future and the next M3 will come equipped with a turbocharged engine.

With next year’s new emissions standards looming on the horizon, every automaker is looking to improve its fleet-wide fuel economy, and that means performance vehicles will be some of the first to undergo an EPA-mandated makeover.

For BMW, that means turbocharging and start-stop systems, two technologies that will boost the fuel economy of the all-new M5 by up to 25 percent when it goes on sale next spring.

Looking over BMW’s current crop of M products, one vehicle stands alone in the induction department, and a source within BMW has told us that the E90/E92 M3’s V8 will be the last naturally aspirated engine fitted to an M vehicle. While nearly every automaker has made tremendous strides to nearly eliminate turbo lag, the linear, low-end grunt of a turbo can’t compare to the high-revving thrills of an NA powerplant. But the future is here and the future is forced induction.

Next-gen supersedan previewed in BMW Concept M5

One of the greatest nameplates in the history of the automobile is about to be reborn. At the Shanghai Motor Show this week, BMW is taking the wraps off the M5 “Concept,” giving us a glimpse at the fifth generation supersedan. Although dubbed a concept, it appears the car is ready to go, so we don’t expect many, if any, changes.

When the new 2012 BMW M5 finally shows up in dealerships, it will sport a revised front fascia that houses three enlarged black mesh-covered intakes to feed its turbocharged eight and supply the front brakes with cool air. The lower edge of the sculpted front bumper is a pure representation of BMW’s latest M models and extends rearward to the aerodynamic rear apron equipped with an integrated diffuser. A deceptively subtle lip spoiler spans the trunk to provide downforce at speed, while M-specific quad exhausts shuttle spent hydrocarbons out the back.

The BMW Concept M5.

  • 04.04.2011
  • Press Release

A glimpse at the 5th generation of a legend

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – Monday, April 4, 2011… Nearly 25 years ago, US enthusiasts were introduced to the concept of the true performance/luxury sedan, the veritable “wolf in a business suit”. A car which offered the driving comfort experienced in a premium sedan and the handling characteristics of a high-performance sports car that can only be described by one single unmistakable model designation - BMW M5. With the first generation of this model, which arrived on US shores in 1987, BMW M GmbH laid the foundation stone for a completely new vehicle category. The BMW M5 was the first car of its kind to offer racing-oriented high performance in a sedan that could be driven without compromise in everyday traffic. This unique concept developed into a remarkable success story spanning four model generations. BMW M GmbH prepares to draw the attention enthusiasts to a four-door sedan yet again. The BMW Concept M5, which makes its public debut at the Auto Shanghai 2011, represents the latest interpretation of this unmistakable vehicle character.

Uncompromising performance and typical M aesthetics in a BMW 5 Series Sedan provide the basis for the exclusive BMW M5 driving experience. With each model generation, the advancements made in the development of premium sedans in terms of comfort, safety and premium ambience were accompanied by new possibilities to intensify that unsurpassed ‘M feeling’. The world premiere of the BMW Concept M5 at the Auto Shanghai 2011 foreshadows the continuation of this tradition. Based on the design vocabulary developed for the BMW 5 Series Sedan, the near-series concept car reflects the characteristic styling features of a BMW M automobile, with which the car’s further enhanced dynamic potential is captured.
A new high-revving V8 engine with M twin-turbo technology guarantees typical M power output. The eight-cylinder engine delivers a spontaneous and even acceleration, which remains constant up to the highest load and is characteristic of the M feeling, in a previously unequalled dimension. At the same time, both performance and efficiency have been significantly increased in comparison to the previous engine. Numerous drivetrain innovations and other enhancements have lead to a reduction in fuel consumption and emission levels by more than 25 percent. The new engine and a seven-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic and M-specific suspension and steering create the ideal prerequisites for an unrivalled driving experience.

Typical M aesthetics: performance defines design, aerodynamics optimize performance.
The athletic appearance of the BMW Concept M5 authentically expresses the engine’s superior power. The sporty and elegant look of the BMW M5 Sedan has been specifically modified using typical M design vocabulary. All specific design features are directly related to the Sedan’s outstanding performance characteristics. They were developed exclusively for the BMW Concept M5 and enhance the vehicle’s character, which is marked by high performance and responsive handling even under extreme conditions. Prominent examples of this are the large air intakes, which allow for the engine’s higher cooling requirements, as well as optimized aerodynamics thanks to a discreet spoiler located on the trunklid and a diffuser integrated into the rear apron.
The BMW Concept M5 owes its intense emotional impact to the direct relation of each detail with the technical requirements. At the same time, the concise styling of the high-performance car’s specific features creates the character of understatement that is typical of a BMW M automobile. The car’s superior appearance is underlined by the body color Chrome Shadow. The discreet appearance of this body color distinctively enhances the surface contours of the vehicle’s three-dimensionally modeled bodywork.

Front apron: precise airflow optimizes cooling and aerodynamics.
Dynamic lines and large air intakes on the front end of the BMW Concept M5 are a clear indication of the vehicle’s exceptionally sport-oriented characteristics and its engine’s outstanding power. Like on the BMW 5 Series Sedan, the contour lines on the bonnet of the BMW Concept M5 flow towards the BMW kidney grille. The upright position of the widely stretched kidney grille also reflects dynamic forward movement. The dual round Xenon headlights, which are complemented at the top by an accentuating light, create the road-focused look that is also characteristic of BMW M automobiles.
The front apron, which was designed exclusively for the BMW Concept M5, contributes significantly towards both the car’s athletic appearance as well as its dynamic potential. It features three large air intakes, the dimensions of which are precisely oriented towards the high cooling requirement of the engine and its ancillary components. The center opening corresponds to the width of the BMW kidney grille, the side contour lines move away from each other as they continue downwards. This echoes the V shape between the grille and the headlights, thus emphasizing the width of the air intake.
The center air intake protrudes further out than the two outer intakes and its contours are slightly curved. This three-dimensional design and the deeply embedded, black grille sporting a honeycomb design additionally underscore the vehicle’s powerful character. With concisely designed so-called flaps on the lower edges of the outer air intakes, the BMW Concept M5 boasts a racing-inspired feature for optimizing airflow. These also emphasize a front apron design that is oriented towards the technical demands.

Side view: dynamically flowing lines, large M light alloy wheels.
With powerfully modeled wheel arches and dynamically flowing lines, the BMW Concept M5 also signals uncompromising sportiness when viewed from the side. The long wheelbase, the set back passenger cabin and the black side window surrounds distinctively underscore the sedan’s stretched silhouette. This appearance is even more strongly emphasized through M-specific lowering of the vehicleThe athletically flared wheel arches are complemented by M-specific light alloy wheels sporting a double-spoke design. Due to the vehicle’s wide track, they are flush with the car body. The 20-inch forged rims are fitted with tire size 265/35 ZR20 at the front and 265/35 ZR20 at the back.
The M-typical gill element on the front side panel has been reinterpreted on the BMW Concept M5. The gill features a high-quality chrome surround and is horizontally divided by a chrome bar, which in addition to the side indicator also bears the M logo. The gill element is the starting point of the swage line, which during its further course across the door handles stretches back as far as the taillights.

The rear end: athletic styling, targeted airflow.
Unparalleled road holding are effectively symbolized by the BMW Concept M5’s rear end design. The emphasis on vehicle width through dominating horizontal lines also featured on the BMW 5 Series Sedan is combined with an athletically shaped rear apron. The vehicle-specific rear apron, which forms a smooth transition to the wide wheel arches, ensures a particularly intensive accentuation of the motive force that is transferred to the rear wheels.
An integrated diffuser at the lower edge of the rear apron effectuates targeted airflow at the end of the undercarriage. As a typical M identifying feature, the BMW Concept M5 is fitted with a double-flow exhaust system, the double tailpipes of which are located far apart at each side of the diffuser and surrounded by aerodynamically shaped trims. Likewise, the discreet rear spoiler located on the boot lid serves to optimize the car’s aerodynamic characteristics. It ensures additional downforce above all at high speeds, thus contributing towards supreme handling at all times.

Awe-inspiring power, impressive efficiency: V8 with M TwinPower Turbo.
The BMW Concept M5 gives a starting signal for the venture into a new dimension of motor racing-oriented driving dynamics. The high-performance characteristics reflected in its design are realized through the M-specific drivetrain and suspension technology. Under the concept car’s hood is a new, high-revving V8 featuring M TwinPower Turbo Technology. The new engine ensures a new dimension of the linear power development characteristic of BMW M automobiles. Moreover, it embodies the principle of technological advancement within the framework of the BMW Group’s Efficient Dynamics strategy. Compared to the fourth generation of the BMW M5’s power unit, the newly developed engine has a significantly increased output level, whilst at the same time lowering previous fuel consumption and emission levels by at least 25 percent. With the new eight-cylinder engine, big steps have been taken in the optimization of drivetrain technology. A clear increase in power is accompanied by a remarkable increase in efficiency. This demonstrates the unparalleled effectiveness of this development strategy, which originates from racing, where in addition to the engine’s performance capabilities and reliability, as few fuel stops as possible result in a decisive advantage.
The BMW Concept M5’s engine power is transferred to the rear wheels by a seven-speed M double-clutch transmission with Drivelogic. This double-clutch gearbox, which was specifically tuned to the new V8 engine’s performance characteristics, offers extremely fast gear shifting, precise gear selection and a high degree of effectiveness that further optimizes the vehicle’s efficiency. The combination of the new engine with M Drivelogic is supplemented by an Auto Start Stop function. When halting at road junctions or in a tailback, the high-performance engine is temporarily switched off, thus avoiding unnecessary fuel consumption during idling. To continue the journey it is sufficient to release the footbrake and the V8 engine restarts immediately.

M suspension technology, typical M innovation: active M Differential
The suspension technology especially developed for each model is an equally crucial constituent part of the well-balanced overall concept of any M automobile. It is constructed using comprehensive know-how obtained from years of racing and then tuned during extensive tests carried out on the North Loop of the Nürburgring. The result is an exclusive M suspension set up as well as exceptionally effective and weight-optimized brakes, which also remain stable even under the hard use that a place like the Nürburgring demands.
In addition, the BMW Concept M5 features innovative rear differential technology also developed by BMW M GmbH. The Active M Differential maximizes traction in cornering by using targeted variation of locking torque between the right and left drive wheels.
Active control of the multi-plate lock inside the rear differential is highly accurate and fast. This ensures that wheel spin is prevented even on slippery road surfaces and in the event of differing friction coefficients between the right and left wheels, in narrow bends or during sudden lane changes. Optimized traction thereby facilitates the highest level of vehicle stability and dynamics during acceleration out of bends even under the most demanding conditions.

BMW Concept M5 - the future of the high-performance sports car with four doors and five seats.
The BMW Concept M5 embodies the vision of a premium upper midrange sedan offering the highest degree of comfort for up to five occupants and allowing the driver to follow the ideal racing line both on the racetrack and in everyday road traffic. The BMW Concept M5 combines outstanding performance resulting from racing-inspired drive and suspension technology with typical M aesthetics that authentically express the vehicle’s dynamic potential. The concept car visualises the unmistakable characteristics of a BMW M model, which mature from a harmonious overall concept in which engine, suspension and design complement each other perfectly. BMW M GmbH’s know-how gained from decades of experience and constantly further developed under racing conditions manifests itself in this combination. Innovative technology derived directly from motor racing provides each new BMW model with unmatched high-performing characteristics.
The BMW Concept M5 reflects a highly advanced stage in the development of a high-performance vehicle based on the new BMW 5 Series Sedan. The specific design features are directly aligned to the technical requirements, the suspension technology is precisely harmonized with the engine’s performance characteristics. With this precisely defined development strategy, the latest embodiment of the incomparable M feeling drives steadily towards series reality.