M-Series.com Exclusive Interview with BMWNA on the new M Performance Parts

Tue, 04 Sep 2012 17:27:31 +0000

Posted: 03 Sep 2012 12:30 PM PDT


BMWBLOG had the opportunity to interview Gordon McDonnell, Accessory & Lifestyle Manager BMWNA, and Eric Riehle, M Performance Parts Manager. The main topic of our discussion revolved around the new M Performance Parts catalog and BMW’s offerings for North American customers.

BMWBLOG: Who is the target audience for the M Performance Parts?

Gordon McDonnell: In general BMW is a balance between luxury and performance, performance sedan, coupe and also luxury.  It’s an opportunity for customers who really want to accentuate the performance nature of the car. There’s clearly no targeted demographic or age group; it’s really across the board for people who want to take the performance of their BMW to another level and accentuate the performance.

BMWBLOG: What do you believe it’s the main focus of M Performance parts? Would it be to improve aesthetics or to improve performance?

Gordon McDonnell: Here in the U.S. we’ve always positioned it to improve performance. Now with the name changing from the BMW Performance to M Performance we have to do the M-brand adjustment, to position the parts around performance. From a sales standpoint, although we do sell quite a bit of the performance oriented parts, we do sell a ton of the aesthetics parts.  We realize that not all customers will take their car fully towards the performance direction, so we’ll offer aesthetics as well, but will be positioned around the performance nature of these parts.

BMWBLOG: Would you say that most of the customers are repetitive BMW customers or you see a lot of first time BMW owners?

Gordon McDonnell: First time and repeat owners. But I would say the enthusiasts are the stronger or the larger part of that group.

BMWBLOG: Have the M Performance Parts sales met your expectations?

Gordon McDonnell: Yes, I would say we’re very clean towards the growth and we just about double sales every year, since we introduced the Performance line, so it’s been a good, solid growth for us, it’s a segment that we’ve always had watched for a long time and wanted to get into. The U.S. actually pushed our German colleagues to offer these parts and always told them that this is a segment that we had to be in. That kind of growth of business would expand our portfolio, and I think we’re pretty pleased with and I’m very happy to say that even compared to our OEM competitors out there, I think we do a quite good job and have really grown that quite an expensive portfolio compared to some of the others out there.

BMWBLOG: On your website you list both Performance Parts and Motorsport Parts. What’s the difference between these two?

Gordon McDonnell: BMW Performance or M Performance now, as the name has changed – are parts for consumer vehicles, for street cars. They allow their customers to retain their warranties, their design has been tested and approved by our BMW engineers, and designed to work with the production cars.

The Motorsport parts are purely off-road racing parts. Right now the parts we offer on the Motorsport side are generally the parts that are used for the customer parts that they sell in Europe. They obviously race several FIA-spec cars and we can use some of the parts here for brand racing and not a lot of them translate into sales, but it’s something that in the future we love to grow that size of business as well even to the point where we could have a customer car and be able to sell parts through a customer racing program.

BMWBLOG: Why would a customer modify a BMW with M Performance parts versus buying a new BMW M Performance car?

Gordon McDonnell: The M Performance car will slot underneath the M car, but will be above the M Sport package. The M Sport package is basically a suspension upgrades, wheel upgrades and the styling of course. The M Performance car has a higher performance engine as well, so it’s something the customer is offered as a package they can also buy for somebody’s car as an accessory. For the M Performance cars we fully plan to offer additional accessories, maybe exhaust system for the cars that don’t have exhaust, carbon fiber diffuser, mirror caps or interior components, to dress up the car further. Then we’ll be able to take it even further. But also the components allow someone who already has a car to accessorize the car, tune it into an M Performance car, and it also allows them to do it piece-by-piece as well. Project-wise it is someone who thought that M performance was out of their range ranged, they could buy a 335i and as they want it piece-by-piece to accessorize it with our Performance parts.

BMWBLOG: Do you have any plans to offer any M Performance parts that could improve the steering feedback in cars with EPS?

Gordon McDonnell: No at this point, but it is an interesting concept, because we modify the software for the engine and actually it is a kind of the next step: you’ve already modified the engine, so what’s next? It’s the electronic suspension. It would be an interesting concept to look at. Currently we don’t have any plans to do anything, but as the cars are more computerized and electronics, it’s definitely the next opportunity to adjust.

BMWBLOG: Do you still plan to keep your arrangement with Steve Dinan through the dealerships?

Gordon McDonnell: Our relationship with Steve Dinan is strictly on the engine building-side for the Grand-AM racing program. He does sell his parts through some of our dealerships; essentially through the part-dealing side of our dealerships there’s no connection there. Basically Steve will step in and cover BMW’s warranty – customize the problem with his car and we deem it not to be defect for BMW. If it was a failure of a part that he had, he’ll cover it. We have the 4-year / 50,000 miles, so there is no official agreement between the companies there. It’s just him stepping in and saying: “Hey, if the part is not covered by BMW, I will cover the 4-year / 50,000 miles warranty?” We have a partnership with him on the Motorsport side and obviously he still builds engines for the racing team for the Grand-AM.

BMWBLOG: You mentioned earlier about OEMs and aftermarket tuners. How do you plan to compete with some of those that sometimes offer either the same performance at the same price or even lower?

Gordon McDonnell: What one of the things we offer that they can’t is warranty, and it was something that we saw extremely positive for us especially with MINI Performance parts. With the change to M Performance, we bring the M brand, which is something that the aftermarket can’t use. Obviously the engineers have worked on the car, it’s still quite the same company, it’s designed for the car, and we are able to stand behind it with the 4-year / 50,000 miles warranty on both the MINI and BMW side. That kind of piece of mind is really giving us an advantage.

We know there will be aftermarket companies that can offer more horsepower, and cheaper as well, but we know that the modifications we have made to the car are safe and within the mechanical limits of the car since we tested and created the car as well as emissions – we have emission requirements, we have to meet noise requirements so the car is still completely legal, compliant and fully warranted, and regardless of where you purchase the car, or where you service the car, our BMW dealers will take care of that customer. In my opinion that provides us quite a competitive advantage and no one can’t discount the power of M.

Another advantage to buy our parts is that some of the parts also carry the residual price. If you lease the car, then that BMW is worth more when you return it, which is something the aftermarket cannot compete with.

BMWBLOG: Speaking of the design, do you believe that the M Performance parts have an influence on the initial design of the BMW cars? Will the brand build something softer so that they can add those parts on top of it to make it more aggressive?

Gordon McDonnell: I don’t believe the designers actually soften the car up, so they can sell something more aggressive. I do believe that when the car is developed and tested obviously they have a range they go through and test. And they have to come up with that compromise between luxury and performance, the handling and the performance that will appeal to the general audience of BMW. And after they have done all that testing, and they’ve probably done it under the limits and over the limits, once they’ve reached that kind of balance between the two, for the customer who wants to accentuate that sporty nature and take their car more in the direction of performance, then they can open the door and hand us the parts.

Eric Riehle: One specific point here is the suspension. When they designed the F30 3 Series, they built different suspension characteristics, one for the standard setup, one of the M Sport package and they will have the one for the M car which clearly can be too aggressive for the average customer. So the M Performance suspensions are geared towards the more sport-oriented customer

BMWBLOG: Are there any M Performance parts that are specific to the US market?

Gordon McDonnell: There is one part: the exhaust system. In Europe they have much stricter standards, when it comes to CO2 levels. So they do obviously have the performance exhaust system in Europe, but ours are at different specs. And actually that’s one of our best-selling car parts – the performance exhaust.

BMWBLOG: Currently you’re offering a power kit for the 335i. Do you plan on offering one for the 328i as well?

Gordon McDonnell: There is potential for other investigation at this moment, but I can’t confirm anything at this point. If you take a look at the sales of our M Performance parts, you will also see that the demand has really has been on the top model 335i, let’s say for the 3 Series, and then our M vehicles. And it’s something in talking with Steve Dinan or Will Turner, and some of the other tuners or aftermarket people, we learned that people with the top engines in the model range or the M cars are the ones who are really looking for performance parts to make the car quicker.

BMWBLOG: Would you say that the 3 Series is the family of cars that have the most M Performance parts sold?

Gordon McDonnell: Yes, and that would be not only from the positioning of the car but also from the sheer volume. That is the highest selling car that we have, and also the positioning of our cars is perfect for the parts.

BMWBLOG: What are the top 3 parts that are being sold for the F30 3 Series?

Gordon McDonnell: For 3 Series: the exhaust, carbon fiber components, and there’s been a very positive feedback on the M Performance brakes for the F30. We sold quite a few of them with the colored calipers. And just from a volume standpoint, everybody loves the black kidney grille.

We have a “port installation program” now, where we have the dealers have the accessories installed on their cars, so the cars arrive at the dealerships ready for delivery, and Eric Riehle has added all the BMW Performance Parts to that program.

But talking about the black kidney grille, that is something that we’ve seen in very high volume through that program, as some dealers basically have been adding them a lot to their 335i or 135i models. Even on the stock orders, they’ve been just putting them on the cars, including the carbon fiber spoilers.

BMWBLOG: Are the M Performance parts available for E90/E92 customers ?

Gordon McDonnell:  Those parts will still exist with the BMW Performance team, but as those models move out, everything introduced new will be M Performance. The E90 will be the first car to go out of production with the BMW Performance name. Then E82/E88 1 Series, and then there’ll be the E70/E71, because don’t forget we also offer performance parts also for these cars. Those cars will be in production for a couple more years, so they will be the last parts to carry the BMW Performance Parts product name. After these, everything new coming on the market will be M Performance.

BMWBLOG: Do you have any plans to offer a more aggressive tune kit for the M3? That’s probably one of the BMW model that everyone is going after, and OEMs and consumers are trying to increase the level of aggressiveness.

Gordon McDonnell: This is an area where we totally agree with you and we are pushing for. The position of BMW AG right now is that the M car should be at the top. And although the requests we’ve seen and the parts that we sell are to customers with the top models, we would love to offer an extended range of accessories for the M vehicles, especially the M3. As you know we didn’t get the special models, like the GTS, yet we would have loved to offer performance parts for the M3. In the mean time, basically BMW M should be at the top of performance, but it’s something that you would have to definitely be interested in and pushing for.

Eric Riehle: There are still a lot of things in the background though, homologation and production costs.

BMWBLOG: The BMW 135is Coupe is coming out and is usually one of these cars that speak to enthusiasts. Are you planning anything specific for this model?

Gordon McDonnell: We already have components that will work specifically for that model, for example the suspension, then we have all the carbon fiber components that you can add to that vehicle. We still have some parts that you can add from the catalog, but nothing specifically.

BMWBLOG: If you’re looking to compete with BMW tuners on the market, why would BMW discontinue parts, like the kit from E46 suspension?

Gordon McDonnell: For us, all the E46 performance components were discontinued temporarily, due to lack of sales. So here you have a car that’s out of warranty, maybe the customer is more price sensitive, and there’s a lot more options out there for it. So it’s an area really where we try, we offer several parts, but we were as competitive as we wanted to be and didn’t see sales.

BMWBLOG: Is there any restriction on the warranty?

Gordon McDonnell: No. What we do with any of the accessories – and M performance Parts are included in these – is if you buy the part over the counter, there’s basically a two year unlimited warranty for the part. But if you buy it and have it installed at your BMW center, the part carries the same warranty as the vehicle, so it would be the 4-years / 50,000miles, or 2-year unlimited, whichever is greater. So we fully stand behind those parts for the period of time the car has warranty.

Eric Riehle: I just want to add the fact that they’re also covered through the maintenance program. For example if you buy the air intake, the air filter will be covered. If you purchase the upgraded brakes, then the brake pads are covered. So there is additional benefit.

As a closing point, we would like to mention the fact that we launched the M Performance parts for the 3 Series and the 5 Series, that was considered the first wave. Now we have a second wave of parts, which will be coming out later this year, probably October-November timeframe. There will be a lot of aerodynamic parts, specifically for the cars with the M Sport package. For example rocker panels, rear diffuser, so we have a lot of parts coming up in the future.

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BMW Team RLL Finishes Fourth and Eighth at Baltimore

Tue, 04 Sep 2012 15:43:21 +0000


BMW Team RLL experienced a disappointing day at the Baltimore Sports Car Challenge after a controversial call by the race steward took the lead of the race away from the No. 55 M3 GT on lap 21 with a one minute penalty for avoidable contact. Ultimately finishing in eighth place, the call ended what could have been a great day for Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller.

The No. 56 M3 GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finished fourth after starting from the rear of the field. The move was required after the team elected to change to a new set of Dunlop tires for the race. Hand started the car and by lap 15 had moved up to sixth. Pitting from fourth on lap 26 he handed off to Müller. Müller challenged for third a number of times but was unable to make it stick, finishing fourth at the checkered flag.

The first 20 laps of Jörg Muller’s race was outstanding. He started the No. 55 M3 GT on the outside of the front row and made it through a first turn of spinning prototype class cars with only minor damage. He moved to second as the race went back to green and on lap nine he took the lead with a quick thinking inside move in turn one after the leader was held up. Twelve laps later he was forced to the pits to serve the penalty that was determined to occur in the front straight chicane.

Auberlen entered the car on lap 24, returning at the rear of the field. He pitted once more from the tenth spot during the next caution period for softer tires. He made up two more positions to take the checkered flag in eighth.

This race is only the second time this season where at least one of the team cars did not finish on the podium. Now with two wins and four additional podium finishes in the first eight races of the season, BMW continues to stand second in the GT Class Manufacturer points. Dirk Müller holds onto the third spot in Driver points. Hand stands fourth. Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller drop to seventh.

“It’s very disappointing for Jörg and Bill,” said Team Principal Bobby Rahal. “Jörg didn’t touch the car that crashed. Frankly it was close and someone is looking for any kind of infraction. We paid the price. It’s just a shame because we were leading the race pretty handily and ahead of the car that ended up winning the race. The No. 56 car had a good strong race. It’s clear that the Ferrari is faster than us on the long straights, so we couldn’t pass it there. It is the same with the Corvettes. We try and make it up in the corners, but there are just not enough of them. We scored points, but we were certainly hurt in the championship.”

Round 9 of the 2012 American Le Mans Series will be held at Virginia International Raceway, in Danville, Virginia, on September 15. The four-hour race will take the green flag at 2:30 p.m. ET with live streaming coverage available on ESPN3.com starting at 2:15 p.m. ET. ESPN2 will broadcast the race at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept 16th.

The Series’ website offers additional content such as live in-car cameras, and timing and scoring for all users around the world. Viewers outside the U.S. can watch all ALMS races live on ALMS.com

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M-Series.com First Drive Review: 2013 BMW M6 Coupe

Wed, 29 Aug 2012 17:15:49 +0000

Over the years we’ve harped on the previous generation M6 a ton here at BimmerFile. From its lackluster chassis dynamics to the questionable “power” button the E63 M6 wasn’t M’s finest moment. That said BMW’s moved on and so have we with turbo power and a focus on broadening appeal while creating better all-around cars. But does the all new 2013 BMW M6 buck that trend?

We recently spent a day at the famed Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California with the M6. Our goal was simple; see if it is worthy of running the corkscrew rather than just transporting one to a dinner party.

Truth be told, we had low expectations going into this track test as the last M6 was such a let down to us (outside that godly V10) and Laguna Seca is a technical track better served by light agile machines rather than 4,200 lbs grand tourers. One thing is for certain, without ever looking at a spec sheet, starting an engine or sitting in the driver’s seat, this car looks faster than almost any BMW before it.

It flicks all the right switches to get our hearts racing just on the possibility of performance based on the aggressive exterior. And that double bubble Zagato ‘esque carbon roof looks even more amazing and aggressive in real life.



With 560 ponies just ready to let loose and 500 torques to go along with them, this all new M6 should not be looked down upon because the engine doesn’t have a racing lineage. The dual twin scrolled turbocharged reverse flow aluminum V8 is as close to naturally aspirated as can be found in the land of forced induction.

That is due in no small part to the patented intake manifold that keeps the engine’s exhaust pulses and turbo spools in perfect harmony. Rather than individual throttle bodies that disturb air flow and add turbulence the S63tü utilizes BMW’s Valvetronic system which uses valve lift as the throttle bodies; increasing combustion efficiency and precision. Not to leave anything out in terms of engine tech, M added in direct injection and a rather robust engine management processor to make this engine an all around performer.

It is more powerful, more efficient and easier to live with day-to-day than the former V10, so what’s not to like? If we’re honest there is one thing. It’s not the turbo-charging that bother us nor the throaty sound that barks on lift off but having to train one’s right foot to be a lot smoother on power delivery. There’s so much power and the delivery is so instantaneous that it’s easy to break things loose.

Thanks to increased engine efficiency and a larger fuel tank the highway range has increased by 34%, which means the M6 can now get from Munich to the ‘Ring on a single tank of super- a pipe dream in the past. Stop light racers will rejoice with the usually conservative BMW 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds- sub 4 seconds will be laid down by one of those glossy car publications in short order, without the use of any afterburners.



The 7 speed M Dual Clutch Transmission used in the M6 is derived from the current generation M3 but is given a dose of PEDs to handle the added torque and has software improvements that aid in low speed situations. It is a huge step up in street driving compared to the previous generation’s Sequential Manual Gearbox III, it almost feels like a torque converter automatic.

On the track with the Drivelogic at the maximum level it unleashes neck snapping gear changes that would be at home in a GT3 car racing around Europe let alone a luxurious boulevard cruiser. It matches revs and engages with little hesitation from the time the paddle is pulled. Rumor has it that a six speed manual (same as used in the US M5) will be offered later in the life cycle but even the staunchest manual defender will be hard pressed to find issue with the semi-auto in this application for track use.



BMW M has always stood behind the concept that their chassis dynamics are designed to be faster than the engine supplied, with the M6 this idea continues to ring true. With the typical adjustable M suspension the car easily goes from comfortable cruiser to a sporty canyon carver. The marketing people will tell you that the new rigid mounted rear is derived directly from racing. And there’s truth in that. BMW M took the rather surprising step of bolting the rear subframe directly to the chassis in a bid to improve dynamics. The result is a 4200 lbs car that seems to defy logic with it’s ability to feel quick whitted and more eager in the corners than expected. The M5 introduced this last year as the first non limited edition M car with this method of construction and the first to land in the US (the M3 GTS and CRT being the first two worldwide).

The near neutral handling and ability to transfer weight properly in such a large heavy car is nothing less than remarkable and far beyond the driving abilities of most that will be purchasing this car. Steering remains an M developed hydraulic servotronic unit which varies boost based on speed- its not as communicative as the M3 but compared to the EPS unit in the 6 it is nothing but pure bliss and can be adjusted for boost with the console mounted switch.

Getting all that power to the ground and keeping everything stuck to the pavement are the latest Michelin Pilot Super Sports (295s out back) which continue to impress even the staunchest critics with their stickiness, durability and ride comfort. The tires may have the final say as to what the car does for grip but the new Active M Differential can decide which of the rear tires gets the power. This is due to the integrated electronics that communicate with the Dynamic Stability Control system that then sends direct power where the grip is and to the outside wheel during cornering. The trick rear diff also is only active when its needed so fuel economy is less impacted than with the fully viscous system of the past.

For the first time in a long time we were hesitant to turn off all the nannies in a car. After getting comfortable in the driver seat and in the passenger seat with BMW Works driver Bill Auberlen (who is a master behind the wheel of cars and boats) it was very apparent that this M6 was a monster that required a lot to be tamed. Partly because of the weight, partly because of the technical nature of Laguna Seca, it was a daunting task to reel the M6 in. A word of warning, unexperienced drivers really need to take care behind the wheel when driving in anger with the new M6. There is a point with the M6 that is of no return and one better have the skills and cajones to get out of a self induced pickle.

We witnessed many an auto journalist drive beyond their own means and nearly hit things that did not move during our time at the track. During development there were several crashes that were caught by spies and even a late change in the aero package to improve the cars ability to remain on track. The car is more than capable on the track and quite safe in capably hands. But we are talking about a heavy powerful machine and the laws of physics, while seemingly defied by the engineers, still apply. Driving with DSC completely off required full concentration on weight transfer, throttle modulation and a good bit of our less preferred technique of left foot braking to get the most out of the car at the limit.

Another point to drive home here is that the M Dynamic Mode setting of DSC is the least invasive ever, allowing more tail out and wheel spinning shenanigans than even the 1M coupe. According to the trackside pros there is little in terms of lap time gains when the system is defeated as being smooth on this track means speed and from our experience that was spot on, not to mention it added a layer of security just in case we were a little too aggressive on the gas.



We can’t talk about handling and track ability without discussing brakes. With all that power and weight being thrown around the binders need to be confidence inducing and have some spare muscle for those moments drivers exceed their own abilities, those we tested did just that. The caveat is the brakes we came to be enamored with were those that only exist in the future. Where is Doc’s DeLorean when it’s needed?

The optional 6 piston gold calipers with New York pizza sized carbon ceramic discs (16.1″) won’t be introduced until sometime in 2013 and cost around 10 large when the required 20″ wheels are added in. Can a set of brakes worth the price of a purpose built E36 race car? That’s a tough call but they are nothing less ridiculous. They allow significantly deeper braking in corners and NEVER experience any fade no matter how much abuse they are dealt. The rotors should last 100,000 miles before needing replacement under normal driving, with pads (which cost only slightly more than normal) lasting around 50,000 miles according to BMW.

The base brakes are the M compound brakes we tested on the M5 and M6 convertible. While they are adequate and a huge step up from the 550i, they can’t hold a candle to the carbon ceramics. Part of us wishes we had never driven the carbon setup as now our view of braking is completely jaded and nothing will ever meet expectations.

The blue painted calipers feature six pistons up front, a 15.7″ steel disc and an aluminum hat to reduce unsprung weight. Out back are single pistons clamping on 15.6″ discs. The steel system was good for a handful of laps before fade checked in, something that could be extended with pads and fluid designed for track use but something BMW doesn’t believe in for press launches as that is not how the cars are sold on showrooms (hat tip to them for being genuine).



Luxurious accouterments with M seem to go hand in hand these days as the clientele has shifted from performance junkies to those that want a car that has it all- comfort, luxury and sport. The materials, textures and design of the M6 leave nothing to be less than luxurious. The real carbon fiber trim, to the full Merino leather are executed as well as, if not better than, cars costing more money and having less sporty intentions. M has made the M6 a dual personality car from a night at ballet to race circuit at the push of one of two steering wheel mounted M buttons.

Speaking of steering wheels, the all new M split three spoke wheel is a nod to the past while being more comfortable in the hand- it’s less bulky and just is more appropriate for a daily driver. Some may argue that all that leather and luxury do not belong in an M car, while on some level we agree there is target market for this car and they know what they want and they are willing to pay a premium for it. With only some 3,200 units of the last generation sold in the US it goes without saying that this is a niche vehicle and competes with cars costing far more that offer less performance and luxury- making the M6 somewhat of a bargain amongst the likes of Aston Martins and Jaguars.

With an option list full of the latest gadgetry from a Head Up Display and a futuristic B&O sound system to Full LED headlights there is everything the most particular buyer could want.



The new M6 is a revelation. A revelation that once again M has done the impossible and made a very heavy vehicle seemingly defy the laws of physics thanks to advanced chassis design and a monstrous powertrain. Make no mistake, the M6 is not a car we’d line up to buy unless we hit it big in a stock trade. But the fact is we’d actually buy this one if we could. That’s not an insignificant comment considering where our opinion was not that long ago with the E63.

While the car is still too heavy to be as agile and communicative as we’d prefer (significantly lighter cars from M are still a generation or two away as carbon becomes cheaper and more prevalent) it is now an aspirational offering we’d consider. Something that when the money comes in and a fast luxurious daily driver is in order. it’s on the top of the list. It’s worth repeating that. Even as BMW fans that’s a list that formerly only included exotics. The late addition of the Gurney lip spoiler also showed us that the engineers are clawing back and making cars that are designed to be driven rather than just looked at, which is what we’d hope from the likes of M rather than an outfit run by marketing and designers.

We’d be hard pressed to find any major areas of weakness outside of weight with this M6. Call us impressed.

Tech Specs and Full Gallery


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BMWBLOG Comparison Test: 2012 BMW M5 vs 2012 Cadillac CTS-V

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 17:12:09 +0000

Posted: 03 Aug 2012 09:28 AM PDT


Smoke lingers in the air, slowly drifting across the sun-set scene. But it’s not tire smoke – it’s billowing out of the BBQ, this time a classic Bratwurst VS Johnsonville Brats cook-off. American meat vs German sausage. Well, you get the idea.

A lot more is at stake here than automotive best-in-class. The pride of a nation and its car culture rests upon the type of titanic competition that we have at hand. This is not sports car vs sports car; it’s the best Germany can offer vs the best America can muster. And it’s been a long time coming.

Launched in 1985, the BMW M5 has continuously set the high water-mark for what a sports sedan could be, indeed, should be. Hand-built and employing a supercar engine of the times, it was the fastest sedan the world knew in its first iteration, and every successive generation has earned that title – until now.

Many automakers have gone to great lengths to determine just what is in the German’s special BBQ sauce. What makes the M5 so spicy, so delectable, so… fast? Mercedes came to the cook-off with their AMG massaged E class, and – while this year it has finally turned up with the right flavor – it previously missed the mark (stand-by for an E63 AMG VS M5 Comparo – we know the Merc is on the war path and has already won some over). Audi and others have had a stab at the M5, but fell short. In 2004, Cadillac launched their first serious assault on the M5 in the form of the CTS-V. It too fell short. Not enough flavor, and the build quality left many with indigestion.

“Launched in 1985, the BMW M5 has continuously set the high water-mark for what a sports sedan could be…”

In 2009 Cadillac tried again, and this time the ingredients were just right for a proper comparison. Based on the GM Sigma II platform, the CTS-V gained weight, but also became a much more sophisticated, upscale sedan. Gone are the wayward interior moldings, squeaks and all. Reach out to touch the CTS-V’s interior surfaces and your hand will be rewarded with satisfying tactile sensations from the likes of real metals, better quality leathers, and plastics. The entire mood and aura has changed.

Of course, none of you are reading this article to hear how the interior build quality of the Cadillac compares to the BMW. The Germans are still a ways ahead in terms of fit and finish and use of quality materials, so if you’re looking for the better limo, buy the BMW. The heart of this comparison lies between the two cars’ performance, and equally important, how they feel to drive. Let’s get to it.

Walking up to the Cadillac, the car’s mysteriously alien yet organic lines are pleasing to the eye. Looks are subjective so I won’t delve in too deep here – but I must admit I am smitten by the Cadillac’s handsome looks. Every line intercepts the next just-right, creating a whole that’s greater than the sum of its individual lines and shapes. Even more important – the hood bulge, gaping wheel fenders and quad-exhaust are visual cues of the car’s immense 556 hp and 551 lb-ft of torque. Sitting idle, this car has a presence about it as you approach. You can’t help but feel a little bit excited to get inside and wiggle your toes over the pedals. In that respect, it is not so different from the M5.

Cadillac has nailed the seats – they are fantastic, holding you just right, such that you can dial in driver inputs with precision whilst fighting the G-force this car will create. As mentioned above, the interior of this car feels great – finally up to par with competition in the premium sport-luxury class. Is it best in class? Not by a long shot – but it gets the job done and leaves you saying, “yeah, that was $63,215 USD well spent” (as opposed to the previous car’s typical “great chassis… but what the *&%# did they do to the dash?” remark).

Fire up the 6.2 liter V8 and your ears will be tickled by a wonderful, sonorous hum. The American V8 is a soundfeast, unleashing glorious battle soundtracks as you get deeper into the throttle. It’s probably one of the best parts of this car – the way it sounds as it goes about its business.

“The American V8 is a soundfeast, unleashing glorious battle soundtracks…”

And getting down to business, just what does this Cadillac accomplish? Official factory 0-60 times are conservative; independent testing has managed sub 4 second 0-60 times – and that is bloody fast for any sports car, never mind a fully appointed 4 door luxury sedan. Cadillac claims a 179 mph top speed, and given this car’s power and slippery sheet-metal, we wouldn’t doubt it. But the numbers do not tell the whole story of this car’s performance. The Cadillac gets under your collar, it pokes you in uncomfortable places and whispers dares in your ear. It’s a bad-ass American thug, in that respect. And we like it for that – it hasn’t lost its focus on performance and fun, while it delivers you to your destination in comfort and class.

Most impressive is the Cadillac’s chassis. Ok, at 4,300 lbs it’s way too heavy, but overall weight aside, the CTS-V is a balanced, well-tuned sport sedan. Turn in is crisp and immediate, the front tires mating to the asphalt well as you get the nose to rotate in towards apex. The Cadillac does exhibit understeer, but it’s mild and easily negated several ways – from throttle lift-off to a good wallop of the right-most pedal. Thanks to the immediacy of the throttle response, the Cadillac is easy to balance on throttle at the limit, allowing you to put in quick lap times. In short, the Cadillac is a driver’s car. It demands your attention and quick hands on the wheel. It prods you and begs to go faster. It hits all the right buttons and if you can overlook the less than top-notch interior, it is a complete package – a four doored sports car. Of course, all the necessary trimmings are included, from a slick 6-speed manual to a LSD between the rear wheels.

“BMW’s M5 was born on the Nurburgring – and that’s not some hyped corporate salesy baloney tag-line…”

BMW’s M5 was born on the Nurburgring – and that’s not some hyped corporate salesy baloney tag-line. The M5 was actually born on the Nurburgring. The same arena every M car ever built was designed and tested. Don’t ever underestimate an M5. Ok, yes, it’s bloated to the size of a 7 series and weighs just shy of the Cadillac at 4,288 lbs of heft – but M has worked some kind of voodoo performance magic into the metallurgy of the M5′s skin, and once you’re off to trott on a racetrack, the M5′s bloodline shows through. It’s just fantastic – the harder you push the more the M5 rewards, and no matter its size and weight – it doesn’t tire out. After relentless lapping of Ascari racetrack, the M5 remained unflappable. All I ran out of was rear tire and fuel. Once the rears were replaced and the tank was filled, it just wanted more corners to conquer, or slide through. (For an in depth analysis of the M5′s track performance, hit the jump).

There is little difference in outright performance between these two. Yes, the M5 is a little quicker around most racetracks, and it does have more advanced technology on board – from its raging, twin-turbo’d engine to its directly-bolted rear sub-frame. If you are bent on winning a local time attack championship – buy the M5. If you’re not being timed to a tenth, then sit tight while we ponder what’s left between these two super-sedans.

There’s a linguistic adage, “What you say matters less than how you say it.” We can apply this truth here in automotive form, “performance numbers matter less than driving experience.” It’s true, the M5 can be one big, quiet, sedate – dare I say it – boring sedan. But at the flick of a steering wheel-mounted M button it can deliver the type of spine-tingling performance jollies that earned the original M5 its hallowed reputation. The Cadillac is at least as exciting as the M5. Where the M5 is more polished, more mature and grown-up, the Cadillac is a bit of a boy-racer. It is a little more ragged, requires a little more attention behind the wheel, and a little more bravery to run at 10/10ths pace. This is a two edged sword – to some a demerit, to others a merit.

In the sound department, the CTS-V lands a heavy blow. This car sounds awesome at any rpm, yet the soundtrack is never tiresome from behind the wheel. This, compared to the M5′s fake engine sounds: synthesized and pumped to your ear drums through the sound system. No thanks.

When it comes to driving excitement, I’d call it a tie – the pendulum will swing in favor of each respective car depending on your driving tastes.

“When it comes to driving excitement, I’d call it a tie…”

So the M5 is a little quicker, equally as exciting though a little more polished, and features better interior build-quality. It possesses a duality in spirit that leaves the CTS-V staring cross-eyed – a one-trick-pony. By those measures, it’s the clear winner in our books. But factor in the roughly $30,000 difference in sticker price, and we have a more complicated situation. I’d call it 90% of the performance, 80% of the polish and an equal match for fun and excitement. We must be ever-congnisant that $30k buys an awful lot of track time and R comp tires.

If you want a world-class sausage, buy a Bratwurst – but the Johnsonville Brats are on sale, and as juicy as ever.

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M-Series.com Race Update: BMW Team RLL Finish Third and Fifth at Mid-Ohio

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 17:11:26 +0000


Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller drove the No. 55 BMW Team RLL M3 GT to a third place GT class finish in today’s 2.45-hour American Le Mans Series Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge after starting the race from the pole position. The finish also netted the No. 55 M3 GT its second Michelin Green X Challenge trophy of the season. BMW Team RLL teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finished fifth in the No. 56 M3 GT after starting from seventh.

The team’s fourth podium finish of the season keeps BMW second in Manufacturer points, 20 points behind Chevrolet. Hand and Müller, the 2011 class driver co-champions, move back to second in Driver points. Auberlen and Jörg Müller hold onto sixth place.

“With all the restrictions the series has placed upon us, and the freedoms they have given to the competition, we are just not fast enough, “said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “There is an obvious imbalance evident in the last few races and I hope that the ALMS will do the right thing. When you know you don’t have the pace you have to rely on strategy and luck. This week the Corvette had an incident and we got lucky again. We need to get back to fair and equal footing and give these guys a run for their money.”

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M-Series.com Race Update: BMW Team RLL Finish Third and Fifth at Mid-Ohio

Sun, 05 Aug 2012 17:04:20 +0000


Bill Auberlen and Jörg Müller drove the No. 55 BMW Team RLL M3 GT to a third place GT class finish in today’s 2.45-hour American Le Mans Series Mid-Ohio Sports Car Challenge after starting the race from the pole position. The finish also netted the No. 55 M3 GT its second Michelin Green X Challenge trophy of the season. BMW Team RLL teammates Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finished fifth in the No. 56 M3 GT after starting from seventh.

The team’s fourth podium finish of the season keeps BMW second in Manufacturer points, 20 points behind Chevrolet. Hand and Müller, the 2011 class driver co-champions, move back to second in Driver points. Auberlen and Jörg Müller hold onto sixth place.

“With all the restrictions the series has placed upon us, and the freedoms they have given to the competition, we are just not fast enough, “said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “There is an obvious imbalance evident in the last few races and I hope that the ALMS will do the right thing. When you know you don’t have the pace you have to rely on strategy and luck. This week the Corvette had an incident and we got lucky again. We need to get back to fair and equal footing and give these guys a run for their money.”

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M-Series.com Spied on The Street: BMW F80 M3

Thu, 02 Aug 2012 20:12:53 +0000

It will be called the F80 and it will probably be awesome. Before it happens though, there’s a lot of testing going on before it’s ready.

F80 BMW M3 spyshot

F80 BMW M3 spyshot

The folks at KGP Photography managed to snap a few shots of the F80 BMW M3 going through the desert testing stage. This is where the most important stress tests come in.

Death Valley has a way with dishing out the heat but when going through the desert in a turbocharged car with quite a lot of power.

Even if the testers go through the event with a little more common sense than us M3 freaks would if we had a chance at it, they’re still taking a chance with the prototype.

F80 BMW M3 spyshot

F80 BMW M3 spyshot

What is important about the F80 and the shots it was caught in this time is the fact that more of the front end was visible this time.

The lower part of the front bumper is more opened up than the F30 standard sedan which is understandable given the conditions and the need for improved cooling.

With these images the rear end of the F80 is also available. The sporty sedan looks a lot more like the sedan than the previous version.

F80 BMW M3 spyshot

F80 BMW M3 spyshot

Which could end up giving the new F80 BMW M3 a better chance at being a sleeper performance car rather than the obvious predecessor.

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M-Series.com BMW DTM Preview: Red Bull Ring Austria

Sat, 02 Jun 2012 13:26:13 +0000



The DTM season enters its next round on 3rd June 2012. The venue for the fourth round of the season is the Red Bull Ring near Spielberg (AT). Unlike the last race in Brands Hatch (GB), the BMW M3 DTM has already been driven on the 4.326-kilometre circuit. However, the test took place in the summer of last year, when the car was in the early stages of its development, meaning only a certain amount of the data gathered back then can be used to prepare for this race.

After finishing runner-up at Brands Hatch, Bruno Spengler (CA) is the best-placed BMW driver in second in the DTM drivers’ standings. Martin Tomczyk (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR) and Andy Priaulx (GB) occupy seventh to ninth in the standings. In the team competition, BMW Team Schnitzer lies in second before the race in Austria. BMW is currently third in the manufacturers’ standings with 84 points to its name.

Tradition meets the present day in Spielberg. Races were held there as early as 1969, when it was originally known as the Österreichring. The Steiermark region of Austria welcomed Formula 1 for the first time in 1970, just one year after the circuit was opened. The current layout came from the pen of racetrack designer Hermann Tilke (DE). He was at the helm the first time the Österreichring was modified and renamed the A1-Ring, and was also responsible for the second renovation, after which it was called the Red Bull Ring.

The DTM raced at the A1-Ring between 2001 and 2003, and returned to Spielberg in 2011 when reigning DTM champion and current BMW Team RMG driver Tomczyk emerged victorious. The drivers cover 4.326 kilometres per lap. Up and downhill sectors alternate, taking in imposing sections like the Lauda and Rindt corners. The Castrol EDGE and Remus corners also pose a real challenge to the drivers.

Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director):

“Following our positive results in the first three races, we now move on to Spielberg full of confidence. The fans have many good reasons to look forward to the race weekend in Austria. The three DTM manufacturers are very evenly matched. Fractions of a second are making the difference between a driver qualifying at the very front of the field or back in the pack. It could hardly be more exciting. The 2012 DTM season is very enjoyable – not just for the spectators, but also for every single one of us in the team.”

Stefan Reinhold (Team Principal, BMW Team RMG):

“We are entering uncharted waters again in Spielberg. It is many months since we tested at this circuit, back then we were still in the early stages of developing our car. Furthermore, it was wet back then. Our form is improving dramatically, as proven by Martin Tomczyk’s fourth place in Brands Hatch. The fact that he also set the fastest lap of the race is evidence that we are moving in the right direction at BMW Team RMG. Here’s hoping it stays that way in Austria.”

Charly Lamm (Team Principal, BMW Team Schnitzer):

“Races in Austria always feel like a home race for us, and I am certain that we will once again be greeted by countless BMW enthusiasts and BMW Team Schnitzer fans in Spielberg. We can be more than satisfied with the season so far. Bruno Spengler’s victory at the Lausitzring and second in Brands Hatch showed just how good our package is. BMW has done a fantastic job of developing the BMW M3 DTM. Now it is important to back up this initial positive impression in Spielberg.”

Bart Mampaey (Team Principal, BMW Team RBM):

“We tested in Spielberg last year, so the circuit is not entirely new to us. Austria is one of my favourite countries and I am personally looking forward to the Alps and the lovely surroundings there. It will be an interesting weekend. It is a nice track and I expect there to be big crowds. We will be faced with another new challenge there, but one that we are looking forward to.”

Martin Tomczyk (car number 1, BMW Team RMG):

“I only have good memories of Spielberg. I won at the reopened Ring last year. That was a fantastic weekend. Spielberg offers everything that makes a racetrack interesting and exciting: a long straight, fast corners and big differences in elevation. On top of that you have the beautiful scenery. In Brands Hatch, my team and I showed that we can compete at the front of the field. We want to follow on from that fine performance in Spielberg.”

Joey Hand (car number 2, BMW Team RMG):

“I have not driven on the track in Spielberg yet, but I have heard only good things about the circuit from my BMW team-mates. My preparations for the weekend will initially be about memorising the circuit. To do this, I am watching videos of last year’s race and practicing driving the circuit on my games console. I only have three DTM starts to my name and still have a lot to learn, but I am confident I will make it into the top ten very soon – maybe even in Spielberg.”

Bruno Spengler (car number 7, BMW Team Schnitzer):

“I cannot complain about the season so far, but you just cannot afford to take the DTM for granted. We will have to gain valuable experience with every lap we complete with the BMW M3 DTM in Spielberg. This has worked very well and effectively at all the races so far, and I obviously hope that this will be the case again this time. I really like the circuit. I set the fastest race lap in Spielberg in 2011. If the BMW M3 DTM is as good there as it has been recently, then I should be able to attack at the front of the field again.”

Dirk Werner (car number 8, BMW Team Schnitzer):

“I drove in Spielberg once back in 2003, so I am vaguely familiar with the circuit. The layout looks very interesting. The last two race weekends did not go to plan for me, so I will try again in Austria. I am not happy with the results so far, but am learning from race to race. It is important to take full advantage of the experience gained so far, so that we can set our sights higher up the field. My third place on the grid in Hockenheim showed me what we are capable of.”

Andy Priaulx (car number 15, BMW Team RBM):

“Thanks to our test there, I know what to expect at this track. Racing there is a different matter altogether though. It will definitely be exciting, as the circuit offers many overtaking opportunities, such as the hairpin. Our overall package has huge potential. I am determined to improve, particularly in qualifying. A good grid position will be very important again in Spielberg.”

Augusto Farfus (car number 16, BMW Team RBM):

“We were in Spielberg in July 2011 to test the first version of our DTM car. The data we gathered there might not turn out to be all that valuable, however, as it was raining at the time. I like the track, and it was great fun driving there. The region is beautiful. I hope to have a strong weekend. Our car was good enough to finish higher than 11th at Brands Hatch.”

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M-Series.com Bavarian //Motorsport Club BMW M division turns 40

Fri, 18 May 2012 19:19:52 +0000


There’s not a lot of fanfare about it but the truth is that this is a big deal. BMW’s famed M division is turning 40 this month.

Over 40 years of existence they’ve given us countless dream machines and some very successful racing cars in all sorts of competitions around the world.

BMW M Division anniversary

BMW M Division anniversary

Most importantly however, the BMW M division has given us more than 3 decades of M branded vehicles, the most civilized way to enjoy performance. We all know about all of the cars BMW’s M division’s cars. The E30 M3 was a car they made for racing and eventually sold to normal people.

The first generation M5 was a sedan that had the same racing derived 3.0 liter straight six cylinder engine as their flagship supercar, the BMW M1.

BMW M Division anniversary

BMW M Division anniversary

Moving on through the years there’s been countless variations of the M3, M5 and the two door version that is the M6 but there have been other options as well.

Let’s not forget the BMW Z3 M and the Z4 M or the much more recent BMW 1 M Coupe. All of them are/were simply excellent cars.

Sadly, along the way a bit of brand dilution with the X-range SAVs getting some attention from the M division. Those are hated by plenty of enthusiasts but even they feel like proper BMWs.

Which is remarkable given how tall they are, how heavy they are or how deeply obvious their presence can be.

I suppose that after 40 years, the M division can probably turn any vehicle into an epic driving machine.


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Bavarian Motorsport Club M-Series.com details on the hotter M135i version.

Wed, 16 May 2012 13:25:00 +0000

With the introduction of the F20-like 1 Series three door, BMW have been much more liberal with the details on the hotter M135i version.

Things seem to be pretty straight forward. Ever since the concept tag expired and the first details showed up, surprises disappeared.

F20 BMW M135i

F20 BMW M135i

What has also disappeared is a major concern that had been brewing around the powerplant of the M135i, specifically its cylinder arrangement solution. Enthusiasts will be happy to know we’re dealing with a 3.0 liter straight six engine, and this time it’s official. The TwinPower Turbo technology makes an appearance to so enthusiasts will likely not be completely pleased.

The performance levels may turn them around. The new BMW M135i develops 320 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. The latter is available all the way between 1.300 and 4.500 rpm.


That means you’ll be able to hit the electronically limited top speed of 155 mph quite easily. You can however pick a way of getting there.

In six speed manual shape, you’re looking at 5.1 seconds but if you prefer to rest your left foot, the automatic gets you there in 4.9 seconds.

It’s probably worth while to mention the fact that BMW almost always underrated their engines and 0 to 62 times so the M135i is probably even faster than that.

F20 BMW M135i

F20 BMW M135i

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