We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Head of Product Development for BMW M, Albert Biermann. He was bombarded by questions from us and other journalists and he did his best to answer them as candidly as possible. We touched on many points but there were a few that had more weight to us than others.
There was no talking about future offerings, so no F80 M3 info or anything specific about the M6 aside from it is coming next summer. What he was able to answer gave us a great deal more information about what goes into making an M.
M and Turbos
Right off the bat the question about M going turbo and how can that be when “high RPM ” has been the mantra for so long. He quickly stated that the high RPM line was started not at M but by marketing and it began with the E39 M5- it had a 7000 RPM red line and was a naturally aspirated V8. The current F10 M5 tops that with 7250 redline and is turbo charged.
As for M and the lack of history with turbos, “M has been working on turbos since its inception and some of the engineers that developed the 1983 Brabham turbo are still working at M developing turbo charging systems “. Fact- that 1983 turbo was a dual scroll and had some trick plumbing much like today ‘s M5 motor does.
We pressed Biermann a bit about Valvetronic, BMWs patented way of eliminating a typical throttle butterfly through the use of valve lift. He said they made significant changes to Valvetronic in order to utilize it in the new M5. It improves response and efficiency by decreasing turbulence and pumping losses. In the end though it is Valvetronic that creates the RPM limit not the turbos.
He feels that “Valvetronic is worth the decrease in the redline as the other benefits are great for performance. ” They are also able to use the Valvetronic system rather than cylinder deactivation to lessen the load during shifts with the DCT.
Where ‘s the Manual for the M5
It is coming next summer, for the US only. The US is the only market that wants one. M will offer it but there will be a time when the business case no longer makes it possible. In the M5 it is tough to justify. The DCT is much more in tune to the car and is better for performance and drivability in the M5. The M5 is designed for a specific type of customer, one that may transport colleagues or clients in urban areas in traffic- not the ideal time to row gears.
In the 1M (he calls the “little One “) and the M3 it makes more sense because of the client base and typical use of the car, they see more enthusiast drivers. Developing a manual for a car with the performance of the M5 is difficult because they need to consider the ability of the driver and the 4 years 50K miles warranty the US offers- not an easy feat.
Can We Put the xDrive M5 Rumors to Rest?
“There is no xDrive M5 coming (period). ” Sure they look into everything at the start of development they are investigating for future products but nothing current. “There might come a point with high torque where you need all-wheel drive, ” but now there is no need for it and RWD is just more fun.
Can M Build Naturally Aspirated Engines and Reach Efficiency Targets?
“M continues to look at naturally aspirated engines and advances in technology to make them more efficient. ” However, “I doubt that there will be naturally aspirated in the future, there is just so much more you can do with turbos to increase drivability and efficiency “.
Biermann seemed to enjoy that they can do more with turbos and that they have just begun to exploit them more fully.
Is an M Specific Model in The Plans?
This idea has been thrown around at M for a long while, since the original M1 super car and the business case has not been there. It is difficult to homologize something that has no series car as a base and adds to the overall cost which must be passed on to the consumer. The same issue has arisen with the Z4, M would love to build one- they may have already- but there is no business case to get the board to approve it.
We wouldn ‘t hold our breath on M building its own product not based on a BMW model anytime soon.
Why no CSL- But a GTS?
To paraphrase a bit- A CSL is a dedicated production model and must be approved by the board and is assembled on a production line. The GTS was not created in that manner. It was started as a customer project by BMW Individual and thus was not required to go before the board and was built at the M workshop. It was originally a single car then it grew into 25 and then it finally was more than 100.
This appears to be a loophole the M guys have found and how they also created the E90 M3 CRT. There are limits to the number of vehicles they can assemble and limits to what they can do for certain markets, not going to be any significant products like those offered in the US because of regulations.
Not a chance. They only built 1025 E61 M5 wagons during the run and it is hard to justify the investment. With the “X ” Ms there is little reason to offer wagons as most consumers will opt for them as they are lest costly and have similar performance.