We’re about six months away from our first official Geneva Motor Show debut of the F80 and BMW is still in the throws of final drivetrain and suspension development. Seen here at the ‘Ring, the four door M3 will feature the firms second turborcharged inline six but the first that’s arguably a true M engine. It will also be the first time that M has embraced EPS – electronic power steering – a large idealogical shift for the brand.
EPS has long been dogged by critics who say it lacks feel and feedback. Perhaps the best to date is Porsche’s system which debuted with the new 991 911. So why can’t M do the same in the M3? BMW will be using the same supplier (ZF) but will be turning in-house for the final steering tuning and algorithms that create feel and feedback EPS
There is some efficiency gains with EPS systems because they, unlike traditional hydraulic offerings, do not draw engine power unless needed and 90% of all driving is done in a straight line where there is no need for power assistance. If the EPS is not pulled at the last minute in favor of a traditional hydraulic system (as was rumored with the M5/M6) the electronic programming would need to have significantly more feel before the limit than BMW’s current EPAS offerings to keep critics to a minimum. In the US BMW uses EPAS in the latest 3,5, and 6 series models. The current BMW system dials in enough feel to allow the driver to make corrections but that is not communicated early enough in some situations- many bemoan the change.
We hope BMW will utilize a system that regulates the torque output of the electric assist rather than just dial down the power level as that seems to make all the difference in terms of feel.
Look for the concept debut to hit the internet in late February. The final production reveal should happen in Frankfurt 2013 with the car going on sale in the spring of 2014.