Alpina B5 ups the ante

Say hello to the Alpina B5 Biturbo.

Up 40 horses and 90 pounding feet from the standard M5’s 560hp and 500 pound-feet of torque, it replaces the seven-speed dual-clutch with its own eight-speed auto.

It also gets an old-school LSD to help the extra power to the road, plus some suspension fiddling, aero and of course some glitter in and out. And they’ve done the wagon as well as the sedan.

The car is only a tenth quicker than the M5 and on par with the Competition Pack, but it does away with the top speed of 155 miles to a much more M-worthy 204mph.

BMW throws stones at Pebble Beach

There is something better in Beemer’s stable than an M4, it would seem - the M4 GTS. The hyper version of the already energetic M4 was previewed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance at Monterey Car Week, and the frosted GTS drawing more attention than some of the more traditional eye-candy on display for its subtlety as well as its performance cred.

The low-skirted coupe features adjustable aero, a huge carbon-fiber splitter and drift-style rear spoiler, and a lovely anodised orange lick of paint to compliment the frosted matte finish to the body. The rims wont be to everyone’s tastes but they do hide some lovely carbon-ceramic brakes (oddly painted yellow) and are staggered with 19-inches at the front and 20 in the rear.

The rear taillights are OLED (organic light-emitting diodes), which claim a more “precise” light emission, and “full-surface and homogenous illumination”. So, they are flashier than normal ones….

Okay, so far we have a glitter pack with glittery taillights… But then it gets interesting. BMW has installed a new water-injection system, which featured originally on the M4 Safety Car used in this year’s Moto GP championship.

It pumps water from a 1.3-gallon tank straight into the intake manifold to keep the combustion chamber cooler, thus reducing wasted energy from heat and lowering fuel consumption. Unfortunately, we don’t actually know those figures yet, and will have to wait ‘until a later date’ for that info. However, BMW does confirm it will be on sale in the States at some point…

OFFICIAL RELEASE: BMW Concept M4 GTS Premiered at Monterey Car Week.

Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – EMBARGO: August 13, 2015 – 9:00pm EDT/6:00pm PDT…A year on from the launch of the BMW M4 Coupe, BMW M GmbH is presenting an initial preview of a high-performance model for use on the road and on the race track: the BMW Concept M4 GTS – the first M3/M4 special production vehicle to be sold in the US.

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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.

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.


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.